Honesdale's boys varsity soccer squad is anticipating an exciting season
While the raw numbers may not reveal it, Honesdale's boys varsity soccer team enjoyed a solid season last fall.
The Hornets managed just a 3-10-1 overall record, but accomplished several key goals … not the least of which was a signature win over perennial powerhouse Abington Heights.
In fact, Coach Shawn Knash's squad closed out the 2018 season with back-to-back wins over Scranton and Abington, a fact that gives the local lads serious momentum heading into the 2019 campaign.
“It's great to get going,” Honesdale's veteran skipper said during a brief break in Tuesday's practice. “I'm excited to see what this group can do. They've been playing together for a long time now and I expect big things from them.”
The Hornets already have one scrimmage under their belt and were scheduled for another on Wednesday versus Nanticoke.
They'll then hit the pitch on Friday for the first match that counts toward their record, a non-league battle with Hamburg. That one is slated for a 3:30 p.m. start at Wallenpaupack Area.
Honesdale will field a veteran varsity squad this fall, led by a group of 11 battle-tested seniors.
At the forefront of this contingent will be tri-captains Jack Firmstone, Jacob VanDeLinde and Robbie Campen.
“They're great kids,” said Coach Knash. “Jack, Jake and Robbie are excellent leaders on and off the field. All of their teammates really respect them.”
The Lackawanna Soccer League recently held its Media Day Luncheon at the Regal Room in Olyphant and Honesdale was well-represented by VanDeLinde and Leo Kehagias.
Jacob is a versatile player who'll line up at attacking mid, but will see action on the wing and at forward as well.
VanDeLinde is also a returning Division I All-Star who made his biggest mark on the 2018 season by scoring the overtime goal that beat Abington.
“Jake is the kind of kid who can really make things happen,” Coach Knash said. “He's very skilled, creative and a good leader. Jake brings a lot to the table. He's the one we look to for big plays in key situations.”
Kehagias is also a senior who'll be penciled into the starting line-up at forward.
“Leo is tough and gritty,” Coach Knash said. “He's a hard worker, very quick and fast. Leo gives us a different look up front because he's very effective without the ball. He puts a great deal of pressure on the opposition.”
Dayle Kulikowski is another player on whom the Hornets will rely heavily this season.
A senior keeper, Kulikowski brings a veteran presence to the back line. He turned in a dazzling performance against Pocono Mountain West in the team's first scrimmage.
“Dayle had a couple of saves that were worthy of SportsCenter,” said Coach Knash with a smile.
“He's a very athletic and experienced keeper. Dayle is passionate about the sport, but even moreso about the position. He's a very vocal leader who commands his defense.”
While Honesdale suffered a 3-1 loss to the Panthers, Kulikowski was stellar between the posts.
“Dayle kept us in the game,” Coach Knash said. “He did a great job.”
The offense was supplied by Drew Howell who hammered home the Hornets' lone goal off an assist by Dom Amato.
“That was beautiful,” Coach Knash said. “Dom's pass was perfect. It was a set piece that we've worked on a lot and Drew did a great job finishing it off.”
Honesdale's exhibition schedule comes to a close with the Hamburg match.
After that, the Hornets embark on what promises to be an exciting, competitive LSL campaign.
The local lads open up their regular season with a home game versus DV. That match is slated for a 4:15 p.m. start on Tuesday, Sept. 3 at the Daniel J. O'Neill Sports Complex.
Weather permitting, the Red & Black will then travel to the Electric City for a much-anticipated battle with Prep. The Cavaliers are the defending Division I champions and a District Two AA finalist.
This match should provide an early-season litmus test for Coach Knash's veteran squad in its quest for a berth in the district playoffs.
“My main goal as a coach is to make sure these kids progress individually and as a team,” he said in conclusion.
“At the end of the season, I want them to be better players and better people. Those are the most important things to me.”