As the veteran coach of the Lenape Valley High School boys soccer program, Eric Schuman has found numerous ways to overcome hardship and seize victory.
This season has already supplied many obstacles for the Patriots to overcome on the pitch.
“The boys understand that due to Covid, the season is tenuous,’’ Schuman said. “Precautions have been made clear and are understood by all. Our athletic trainer, Justin Corcoran, and our athletic director, Rob Cline, have impressed upon all the importance of coaches and student athletes adhering to clear guidelines and to deliberate to take precautions.
“It may look different than preparation for success in prior years, but the boys understand this as a key ingredient to having a safe, successful season.’’
A solid contingent of varsity-tested student athletes will lead the Patriots on the field this fall.
“There is a core group of returners this year, including seniors Gabe Hernandez (forward), Connor Duffy (defense), Dakota Krug (defense and forward), Jarod Morin (midfield), Alex McLean (forward), Liam Schikkinger-Hand (defense), David Castillo (defense), Hunter Thunell (midfield), Drew Zanella (forward) and Darrius Coye (midfield),’’ Schuman said. “Connor Duffy brings a year of experience as a captain under his belt and another is four-year starter Gabe Hernandez. The senior leadership will be critical to the team’s success this season.
“Juniors include Jude Ashley (midfield), Steven Vasquez (goal keeper), Carlos Perez (midfield) and Kieran Gannon (midfield). Key returning sophomores for the Patriots are Nate Sarnella and Evan Williams. Earning a starting spot will prove competitive this year and should bring practice to new levels. Time will tell if any newcomers will prove themselves.’’
Lenape Valley is scheduled to begin the regular season with a road game at Hackettstown on October 1. The Patriots earned six wins in 2019.
“The boys are enthusiastic to be back training,’’ Schuman said. “They understand that every day is a gift, so the daily goals include: be disciplined and be prepared, bring your very best to practice, play to make each other better and play every day like it’s your last. Season goals-top the Division, six shutouts and qualify for the (NJSIAA) State Sectional Tournament.
“With such a strong senior class that had their junior school year cut short, there is an attitude of humility that has superseded any hubris. The boys are simply appreciative of the opportunity to train together, push each other and play the game they love during their final year of high school. It’s a united group grateful for the opportunity to represent their school.’’
“The boys are enthusiastic to be back training,. they understand that every day is a gift, so the daily goals include: be disciplined and be prepared, bring your very best to practice, play to make each other better and play every day like it’s your last.” -- Head Coach Eric Schuman