By Sophia Ricco
The boy’s varsity soccer team at Elwood-John H. Glenn High School is off to a solid start this season, with a record of 5-0, the team is undefeated and hope they can keep it up the rest of the season.
This year, the team’s coach, Lou Hanner, believes his team could win the county championship, something they have not done in more than 10 years. In the last three years, the team has lost only five games. Hanner attributes his team’s success to his players working in harmony on the field.
“We have had a great group of guys who have grown into the team culture,” Hanner said.
The team is playing two big games this week, on Wednesday, Sept. 12 against Shoreham and on Friday, Sept. 14 against Southampton. They will both be tough matches, but Hanner believes his boys can win if they put into play all the techniques and plays they have practiced for weeks.
“We have a traditional system, things that we do are real simple,” Hanner said. “But we try to keep bleeding it... we keep running the play again and again.”
Hanner is in his 21st year of coaching soccer at John H. Glenn High School and feels he has a system that works for his team. At the moment, one of his captains and four year starter, Adam Astarita, is leading Suffolk County in scoring goals. His other captain, Nick Weiss, exemplifies hard work by getting into the starting lineup by putting in extra work during the offseason and summer sessions.
“I feel like some programs and coaches are more concerned about coaching style than worrying about results,” Hanner said. “I mean, we’re coaching a varsity high school, competitive, interscholastic sport so ultimately with our team, we’re playing to win. I’m playing to win games, I’m trying to teach our guys to win and be successful at life.”
The program does have simple rules that the coaches enforce with the team, that they believe teaches them discipline. Hanner is less concerned with a players style and how they play, instead he wants them to “follow and fall in line.”
“You’re not at practice on time, you will sit,” Hanner said. “We’ll have one of our captains not start tomorrow because he came late to practice. I’ve been telling the kids since day one, if you’re late, you’re gonna be dealt with. So because he’s the captain, he doesn’t have to sit? No, everything breaks down if you do that.”
Another reason the team has been able to work well together is because the team continues to play through the offseason. Starting the week after winter break, Hanner holds intramural soccer games on Friday mornings before school starts from 6-7 a.m. This extra play time gives them a leg up on other team’s who only play during the season starting in June.
It also gives Hanner and his coaching staff a chance to observe their players and learn more about their playing styles and commitment. Typically, 10-20 students will participate in a game and those who do find it helps them greatly. The intramurals are open to the entire school so at times Junior Varsity players will join a game and give the coaches a chance to look forward to future players.
“You learn about who’s committed, the guys who are there every single week and the guys who never come,” Hanner said. “You choose not to come there on a Friday morning, no one has other practice, no one has a band lesson, no one has other conflicts. So either you show up on Friday and get an hour’s worth of work in or you don’t come.”
The season really picks up in June during Brookhaven Summer League. This is when coaches can figure out who their core group of players are.
One team they are most looking forward to playing against is Centereach, who are the defending State Class B champions and won against John Glenn twice last year. If the team can make it through the playoffs, they will likely face them in County Semi-Finals or Finals. The next team they would play would be the Nassau County Finals winner, then they would go on to the Final Four State Championship.
But first, they must conquer their county, which is looking to be more difficult this year than ever since New York state recently changed the class system to drop more schools from Class AA to Class A.
“We’re one of the smallest schools in the class, but we’ve been good enough to win them... we just haven’t yet,” Hanner said.
Sgt. Christopher Raguso Memorial
The team is also looking forward to their game on Saturday, Sept. 22, that will be followed by a memorial ceremony for Sgt. Christopher Raguso, a former player and graduate of John Glenn that was killed in service when his helicopter went down on March 15. The team will be putting up a flag pole and monument in his honor and have a GoFundMe set up to raise money for the memorial. The game is at 10 a.m. and the ceremony is scheduled to begin at 12 p.m.