Monmouth Regional will zero in on goals this soccer season

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Scott Jacobs
Monmouth Regional High School's Ryan Wolff dribbles a ball and maintains possession at a practice on Aug 17.

The captains for the Monmouth Regional High School’s boys soccer team are not shy about what they will focus on this season.

captains are hungry in 2018, for a Central Jersey, Group 2 state sectional tournament championship. The Falcons lost in the state sectional championship last year, 6-0 to Holmdel High School.

“Last year was a historic season,” said senior captain Brian Waltsak. “We have so many guys that played and helped who are returning. So there’s a lot to expect for the season and I think we can go really far.”

With eight starters back, Monmouth’s goal is clear.

“We’re playing for a state championship,” said another senior captain, David Lopes.

“We’re all hungry to get back at it,” said yet another senior captain, Ryan Wolff.

In 2017, the Falcons advanced to the championship game of the Central Jersey, Group 2 state sectional tournament. Monmouth  Regional was defeated by Holmdel High School, 6-0, in the sectional title game.

A fourth senior captain, Chris Anfuso, is hungry for another postseason trophy, too. Monmouth Regional lost in the Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinals last year.

“Shore Conference quarterfinals, I think we can get back there and go farther,” he said.

“And definitely one or two in the (Shore Conference B North) Division,” Lopes added. “It would be great to win the division.”

The Falcons have high expectations–and a lot of expectations. They open their 2018 season Sept. 6 at St. John Vianney High School in Holmdel.

Monmouth Regional should have no trouble controlling the ball. All four captains are strong midfielders and defenders.

Waltsak, a center midfielder, had 17 assists last year, earning a First Team All-Shore Conference B North Division nod. Anfuso and Wolff are center backs. Lopes is a two-way midfielder.

Goalkeeper Dominick Santaniello is not a captain. He is only a sophomore. But he is one of Monmouth’s best players. As a freshman, Santaniello was named an All-New Jersey Honorable Mention.

“He had a good year. He kept us in it,” said Monmouth Regional coach Darren Spadavecchia. “We did very well with him.”

“He was very good,” Anfuso said. “And considering he was a freshman, and not even used to the high school scene, this year he’ll be even better. More used to it.”

“More confident,” Wolff added.

Monmouth Regional’s only hole is up front. Both forwards graduated after 2017, including 30-goal scorer Joel Burgos. Spadavecchia has been coaching the Falcons for 15 years. Burgos was only his second player ever to score 30 goals in a season.

“It will be more of a team effort. We were pretty much a one trick pony. We are a pretty good team but without a major player it’s tough,” Spadavecchia said. “Hopefully someone steps up. I don’t need to replace all 30 at once. Maybe four guys with five or six each, or something.”

Waltsak had 12 goals last year, but is more of a passer. He just needs another Burgos to feed. At practice on Friday, Waltsak said he has one potential replacement in mind.

“It will be trial and error,” Waltsak said. “We got David though.”

Waltsak and the other captains looked at Lopes, who grinned.

“Yeah, easy 30 goals,” Lopes deadpanned.

But then he got serious.

“Since we’re a man down on the attack, I might go up more this year,” Lopes said.

The Falcons will likely need to depend on defense early in the season.

“There are definitely going to be closer games, 2-1 games, 1-0 games,” Anfuso said.

“The start of the season we’ll be more defensive,” Wolff said. “But as we find our groove, as we find our playing style, we’ll start picking it up and putting the ball in the back of the net more often.”