The Southampton boys soccer team will have a bit of a different look when it takes the field for its first game on Saturday in a non-league contest at home against Suffolk County Class A champion East Hampton at 7 p.m. Eight players graduated from last season’s team, including leading goal scorer Dailos Ramos (19 goals), defenders Wyatt Schmidt and Liam McConnell, midfielder Victor Alonso and forward Andrew Nelson.
However, the Mariners have a core of seniors who are returning this season to lead the team. Midfielder Artur Barbosa is returning to a starting position this season, as are fellow seniors Andrew Gardner, Ezequiel Martinez and twin brothers Milos and Stefan Djurasic. The Djurasic brothers were ball boys in sixth grade, and two years later, found themselves on varsity. They are no strangers to the varsity program, Riley said, and will be relied upon heavily this season.
Also returning is senior defender Tyler Wisner, who suffered a serious motocross accident shortly after last season for which he had to be airlifted to Stony Brook Hospital. Wisner broke his femur, but it may have been a blessing in disguise. His rehabilitation process has transformed him into a bit of a fitness nut, and he comes into this season in the best shape of his life.
Southampton still has its two younger players as well in Jesse Scanlon and Gianluca Santacruz, both sophomores. They logged a lot of minutes as freshmen last season and Riley expects them to continue to get better this season.
Also returning is junior goalie Garrett Pike. It will be his second year starting in goal for the Mariners, but unlike last season, when he didn’t have much in terms of competition for the starting spot, this season Steven Swiderski, a senior, is returning from a year off to fill that void. Riley said he has Pike penciled in as the starter right now but Swiderski could steal a few starts here and there. Swiderski can also play defense, so he has more of a likelihood to see the field either way.
Kevin Dexter, a junior, is a callup from the junior varsity who could see significant time, especially on defense.
Every preseason, the Suffolk County Soccer Coaches Association (SCSCA) puts out preseason rankings of the teams in each league. The SCSCA picked Southampton to finish fifth in League VII, behind newcomer Port Jefferson (up from League VIII), Hampton Bays, Center Moriches and Mattituck. The Tuckers were actually ranked second among Suffolk County’s small schools, even though they graduated more than a dozen players from last year’s Long Island Championship team. Center Moriches was ranked fifth among small schools.
Riley takes the rankings with a grain of salt, though. “I think every team is going to prove itself,” he said. “The guys have been working to get another shot at the playoffs. Last year was our fifth consecutive season in the playoffs, so we want to continue the good things that have been happening.”
Riley said this season is exciting because his team gets to face three county champions—Port Jeff not only won the county title but is the two-time defending Class C state champ; East Hampton is a two-time defending county Class A champ; and Mattituck is the defending county and Long Island Class B champ. Riley thinks his players will be up to the challenge.
He said his team is dedicated to erasing the memory of a tough end to last season—a 6-0 road loss to Mattituck in the opening round of the Class B playoffs, a game that was played in a nor’easter when all other playoff games that day had been postponed.
“This team has had the hardest working and most dedicated offseason of any team I have coached, starting days after that nor’easter loss,” he said. “We’re really looking forward to the fact that we get to play the A, B and C champion from a year ago. We look forward to continue to make headway in making a name for Southampton soccer.”