“We’re going to play every game like it’s a playoff game,” said Southampton boys varsity soccer coach Dave Riley when asked how his team will approach its day-to-day schedule. “They’d like to be in the county finals this season.”
Southampton is one of the top teams once again in Suffolk’s Class B after making the county finals two of the last three seasons. Last year the Mariners lost to Mattituck, the eventual Long Island champions in the Class B semifinal.
“These guys have been tasting it [a class championship] and I think after going head to head with Mattituck last season, they haven’t skipped a beat and they’ve been working really hard to get back there,” Riley said. “I’ve been impressed with their work ethic and they need to just take one game at a time, one day at a time.”
Key returning players include super striker Matias Ruiz, a senior captain who has 47 career goals and packs a shot that has been clocked at 80 miles per hour. “He provides a lot for us and his shot is just harrowing,” Riley said. “I know I wouldn’t want to be in the way of that [shot].” Ruiz is a real leader who offers superb playmaking.
Co-captain Marcello Carvalho is a standout defender who ran track last spring and is one of the team leaders both on and off the field, while goalkeeper Ben Moritz, who boasted six shutouts last season is in his third year between the posts. “Ben keeps improving each season, he’s got great reflexes and his learning curve has been extremely steep,” Riley said.
Jorge Rojas, a striker and senior co-captain, sees the entire field and is an excellent communicator whom Riley described as one of the driving forces behind the Mariners.
Stefan Djurasic is another solid defender who is only a sophomore, but plays with as much experience as the seniors.
Southampton has looked impressive as it prepares for the start of the League VII season, picking up a 3-0 non-league win against Southold on Sept. 10 and defeating a tough Greenport squad 5-2 in another non-league contest on Sept. 12. The Mariners opened the regular season at home on Sept. 19 when they defeated Bishop McGann/Mercy 4-1.
“I’ve been telling them to just take every game and every opponent as a serious match and never underestimate anyone … don’t ever be overconfident,” Riley said. “They have to get out there and put in the same hard work on game days that they’ve been putting in at practice.”