The Marlboro High School boys’ soccer team is heading into the 2017 season with a new head coach and a roster full of unproven talent, but excitement is high for the Mustangs.
Following a 20-2-2 campaign and a long run in the postseason, Marlboro replaced longtime head coach Dave Santos with Will Gould, the former Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School head coach and a graduate of Marlboro. Santos stepped down as the coach following the season.
Gould graduated from Marlboro in 2005 and coached the Rumson-Fair Haven soccer team for four seasons before returning home to coach the Mustangs after being approved by the Freehold Regional High School District in April. Gould stated that the opportunity is something he couldn’t imagine.
“To be able to return to my home town and be head coach of the program at Marlboro is something I take great pride in,” Gould said. “This is the town I grew up in, attended to school in, and live in. I know a lot of these families and kids ether from around the neighborhood or teaching them at a young age. To be able to have a hand in their growth and development as both young men and athletes is something I am very honored with.”
Last season, Marlboro lost to the eventual New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association Group 4 champion, Hunterdon Central Regional High School, in the Central Jersey, Group 4 tournament finals.
The Mustangs also fell in the Shore Conference Tournament finals, where Christian Brothers Academy posted a 2-0 victory.
Most of the players on that Marlboro team graduated.
Despite his excitement, Gould knows he’s inheriting a very young team.
“This year’s team’s biggest weakness is inexperience,” Gould said. “The team is only returning two field players who saw big minutes last year. The team will be a mixed bag of upperclassmen and young players who all have little experience on the varsity field. With a new group of guys, chemistry is always a factor. The next month will determine a lot.”
One of Gould’s first tasks will be to see what he has on his team.
“This years team’s biggest strength is in the unknown,” Gould said. “Because the team is only returning two players who made major contributions on the field last year, a lot is unknown. It will be our job to figure it out on the fly.”
To make the big plays this year, Gould will call upon the skill of seniors Brian Dates (midfielder), Zach Scarpa (midfielder), Seun Majekodunmi (forward) and Seaun Majekodunmi (midfielder); and juniors Brandon Grine (forward) and Kyle LaRocca (defenseman).
Gould knows the opponent that will meet Marlboro in the season opener on Sept. 5. On that day, Marlboro travels to take on Gould’s former squad, Rumson-Fair Haven.
“It’s both exciting and nerve-wrecking. I think playing against the program I spent the last five years putting my heart and soul into is bittersweet,” Gould said. “I want nothing but success for each and every single one of the Rumson-Fair Haven players, but make no mistake about it, we are going to that game with the mindset of winning. We want to start the season off on the right foot, and there’s no better way to start a season than with a win. Ether way, at the end of the day, it will be an emotional evening for sure.”