Officially, at least.
This is the first official day of practice and tryouts, but for many teams and players throughout the area, it’s just the continuation of a what’s already been an intense and diligent preseason.
John Jay senior midfielder Brandon Merlino (file photo by Jim Stout/MaxPreps.com) has been getting ready for months. The UMBC-bound Merlino and the Indians face their first test on March 17 when they host Bronxville in a scrimmage.
How has the team been adjusting to your new head coach, Tim Schurr, so far?
So far, our team is taking to Coach Schurr very well. He is a really nice guy who seems excited to be a part of our program and team. We honestly didnt know what to expect until our first day of optional practices. We got a good idea of what the season and the practices are going to be like this year and how Coach Schurr runs things.
After practice when I was talking with my teammates, we all had nothing but good things to say about him and we are really excited to get this season under way.
What have you been doing to get ready for the season?
I have been doing everything I possibly can to get in the best physical shape. I have been doing a lot of strength and speed classes at the Parisi School at Club Fit in Jefferson Valley and they have done nothing but made me improve in everything. When I am not doing classes, there I am in the gym with my trainer Jason from Parisi and he does some pretty intense lift sessions with me and really knows how to push me to the next level. I have been doing a lot but I am not the only one putting in the time and effort. There are a bunch of guys on my team doing the same thing as me and we are all looking to prove ourselves as a team this season.
Can you talk about some of the key players you lost from last year and how you think you will be able to replace them?
Last year, we had a bunch of great players like Will Stewart, Geoff Stearns and Ian DeRuiter who are very hard to replace, but I feel like we are coming back way stronger than we were last year.
We had a very young team and a there was also a lot of talent on the team that never even saw the field. This season all of us are ready to play and we are hungry to prove that we are back as a program at the national level.
What scrimmages are you looking forward to most?
This year I am really excited about our teams scrimmage schedule. We are playing really good teams like Darien and Delbarton that will get us ready for tough teams like Yorktown and Somers. I am definitely looking forward to playing West Islip the most in the preseason because playing the No. 1-ranked team in the country will show us where we stand as a team and also the things that we need to improve on and fix for the season.
What players on your team do you think will surprise some people this season?
This year I believe that we have a couple of players that will shock the crowds. Billy Pray is a big attackman with a rocket of a shot who should put up big numbers this season working behind the net with Mike Daniello. Another great player to look out for is Brendan Morris. He is not the biggest player on the field but he is the toughest and one of the most talented and he always somehow finds the back of the net. The last player that I’m going to mention is Alex Lanza. When I talk about this kid the words determined and motivated come up. He is always working after school on the turf getting reps in. He has great stick skills and is a big physical player.
What do you think the strength of your team will be this year?
In my opinion, we have no strengths or weaknesses this year. We are just all around balanced. We have really good players all over the field and all of the kids on offense can put the ball in the net. We are all really excited that the season has finally started and we are looking forward to getting after it.
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