The 2012 season proved to be a historic one for the New Paltz High School boys soccer program.
The same could be said for 2013.
“We’re the hunted instead of the hunter,” New Paltz coach Stu Robinson said of his Huguenots, who won the program’s first sectional championship last season. “This is new grounds for them. They’ve never been in this position. How they manage that will be one of the keys to our season.
“It’s not exactly the same team as last year. There is a level of confidence that says if you show faith and work hard, we’ll be a tough out. I’m not ready to say we’re definitely going to do it. It wasn’t until part of the way through the season I felt we could do it last year. But we’ll be prepared.”
Robinson used the first week of preseason camp to work the players into shape, and plans to finalize his varsity roster early this week as his team prepares for its season opener on Sept. 4 at Washingtonville. The Wizards were the 2012 Section 9 Class AA champions and finished the season ranked among the top 10 programs in the state, according to the New York State Sportswriters Association.
“He’s taking it tough to us because we’re defending sectional champions. We’ve only won it once ever, so he wants to go back and get it again,” New Paltz sophomore Aidan O’Neill said.
The Huguenots lost seven seniors to graduation — including Poughkeepsie Journal All-Star Tucker Stern and his 15 goals and four assists — but will return 10-plus players to this year’s club, including O’Neill and fellow sophomore Will Cymbal.
“This year we’re going to have to work harder to keep the ball moving,” said Cymbal, who scored twice in his team’s 2-0 Section 9 Class A championship triumph over Goshen last year.
“We have to work as a team. We have to maintain possession and can’t be a kick-and-run team.”
Robinson will continue to put the pieces together in camp this week as his team also prepares for next week’s matches against Washingtonville and perennial Mid-Hudson Athletic League power Spackenkill two days later. The Huguenots will play their first of three consecutive MHAL divisional matches on Sept. 13 at Saugerties.
“I think for us it will be: Can we still be the same technical team and play with the same skill level that we displayed at the end of last season?” Robinson said.
“I think we have the pieces to do that. I’m looking forward to seeing that develop. Right now, it’s just trying to figure out who helps us where and how.”