The Sussex County Community College's Men's Soccer Team is starting out the 2019 season on its highest note ever. That note is a No. 6, as in ranked No. 6 nationally in the United States. In its pre-season rankings, the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) posted Sussex as the 6th best team in the country. Sussex has been ranked nationally before, but certainly not at the outset of a season. While the ranking is great, head coach Frank Vernaccio cautions there is still work to be done. The ultimate goal is to stay ranked and improve on that number. "The key to the ranking for us is to forget that we are," he said. "We have been ranked before and putting added pressure on yourself is unnecessary. Like I said before we aren’t going to change what we are doing. There is a standard we try to uphold all the time and if we can raise the standard the ranking will stay." Last year Sussex reached No. 8 for a week enroute to an 11-5-1 campaign.
"As a program we are grateful to be ranked but for us it doesn’t change the way we have been preparing," said Vernaccio. "Every year we are looking to do better than the last not because of any ranking but because the standard of being a Sussex soccer player demands us to. All the players and coaches who have come before have created a culture that is Sussex Soccer. You give back to that by continuously pushing the bar upwards."
Sussex has plenty of talent heading into this year's schedule, which starts after Labor Day. It's an interesting mix of players in that several are from other countries. Bailey Caller (England) is a returning goal keeper. "He is an outstanding leader besides being a great goal keeper. His direction on the field played a big role in our success last year and will again this year," noted Vernacchio.
He stated, "Deon Waldmeier (Australia) is a returning winger for us who sets a standard for what it takes to be a part of this program. He is another leader who leads by what he does more then what he says. Joey Lynch (Warren Hills), a returning attacking player for us, is very creative, and comes from a great soccer background. He's another leader on the field who sets a high standard for practices and games." Additionally, returnee Adrian Sanchez (Wantage) is one of the Skylanders' best attaching threats whose speed and technical ability are major assets. Freshman Kieran Ouellette (Warren Hills) "is an attacking player who is fast and technically very good who is exciting to watch and will be a solid piece for us next year as well," said Vernaccio. Vernaccio calls freshmen players Darcy O’Connor (Australia), Sebastain Stephan (New Zealand), and Willem Baines (Australia) his "defensive beasts."
"We have a great core from the area and of course from abroad," the coach said. "Players from Brazil, Spain, England, New Zealand, Australia and Germany. What I have always seen over the years from our international players is the respect and honor they feel to play soccer here in the United States especially for a program that is giving them their start. That part along with our players from the area who also feel the same way is a great recipe for success. Overall this group has speed and is very technical."
Summing up his team's main goal, Vernacchio stated it's always to get "the very best out of everybody. There is too much we cannot control but attitude and effort are things that always are in our control. If we can have a great attitude and a great work ethic we will do well." And he is confident, a high ranking from start to finish.
For more about Sussex sports, visit sussexskylanders.com.