Adam Shinder/Recorder staff Broadalbin-Perth's Jake Coveney, right, closes in on Jordan Holik during Tuesday's soccer practice at Patriot Field.
Adam Shinder/Recorder staff Broadalbin-Perth's Ryan Dingman, front, leads his team in a hill sprint during Tuesday's practice in Broadalbin. Following him, left to right, are John Person, Jake Coveney, Jordan Holik and Claudio Mastrocinque.
Adam Shinder/Recorder staff Broadalbin-Perth's Mark Dumais steps into a goal kick during Tuesday's practice at Patriot Field.
Adam Shinder/Recorder staff Broadalbin-Perth goalkeeper Ian Halloran prepares to defend a free kick during Tuesday's practice at Patriot Field.
By ADAM SHINDER
BROADALBIN -- When the Broadalbin-Perth High School boys soccer team isn't practicing its possession-heavy style on the turf at Patriot Field, they can usually be found on the grass outfield of the B-P softball field -- which, in the fall, serves as a makeshift practice field for football and soccer.
Connecting the Patriot Field parking lot and the practice field is a short, but punishingly steep hill -- and B-P head coach Brian Henry makes sure his players make good use of that slope.
"That's been the last week and a half," senior midfielder and team captain Ryan Dingman said after a series of leg-busting hill sprints Tuesday morning. "Just running."
It's all in the name of continuing what has become a tradition of success for B-P soccer. Since 2009, the Patriots have won two Section II Class B championship, captured the state title in 2011, and have consistently sat at the top of the Foothills Council.
In the last two seasons, B-P has been knocked out of the sectional playoffs in the semifinal round, and though this team is among the youngest in Henry's 13 seasons -- the last vestiges of the state title team graduated in June -- there's reason for the veteran coach to feel optimistic heading into the Sept. 4 season opener at Gloversville.
"So far, so good. The guys are working hard for us," Henry said. "This group -- I'm impressed, because they know what it means to be a teammate and they understand the value of a team. They're a good group to coach -- very coachable -- and they work really hard for us. They understand there's a tradition at Broadalbin-Perth to be great, and that's what they're striving for."
The Patriots went 15-4 last season, with their 11-3 mark good for third in the Foothills Council, before being eliminated by Schalmont in the Section II Class B semifinals. However, between the likes of veterans Scott Everson, Connor Monks, Fran Mastrocinque and all-state performer Logan Ackley, the Patriots lost all but 12 of the 63 goals they scored last season to graduation.
In their place, Henry will look to veterans Dingman and Claudio Mastrocinque in the center of midfield. Dingman, now a senior, is the team's top returning offensive threat, coming off a five-goal, six-assist output in 2013.
"Ryan's a tremendous player; he's a tremendous leader," Henry said. "He's exactly what we need to take these guys to the next level."
The Patriots also return veterans Jordan Holik and Cameron Monks on defense, but much of the team this year will be built from the foundation of a powerhouse junior varsity and modified program. Henry's expecting several JV call-ups to start this season, most of whom played on the school's undefeated JV team last year and the unbeaten modified team in 2012.
In the last two years, that group has posted a 29-0 record while outscoring opponents by the absurd margin of 136-8.
But, B-P's veterans cautioned that there will be a learning curve for their younger teammates.
"It's a different level," Claudio Mastrocinque said. "It's a lot more aggressive at the varsity level."
"We're gonna try to keep the tradition going, though," Dingman added.
The Patriots also added some senior newcomers, the most surprising being Jake Coveney, who decided to forego a senior season as a key member of the B-P football team to make the switch to soccer.
Also a state champion in the pentathlon and a key part of B-P's basketball team, Coveney can be a major asset for the Patriots despite his lack of soccer experience, Henry said.
"He's gonna give soccer a try, and he's a natural leader as well," he said. "Even though he's new to the game of soccer, his leadership skills will be valuable for us down the road."
Henry acknowledged that it may take some time for his team to get fully used to playing together, but when they do, he's hopeful the 2014 Patriots can do their part to add to the program's legacy of success.
"There's probably gonna be some bumps in the road as we go, because it's a very young squad," he said. "It's probably my youngest squad ever -- we're gonna have a couple starting freshmen -- but we're excited. There's a lot of possibilities for us."
Contact ADAM SHINDER at firstname.lastname@example.org