In terms of a high school soccer player, Ryan Weingart could be referred to as “old reliable.”
The “old” part would be a reference to the fact that he is a senior and the longest-serving player on a young Greenport/Shelter Island boys soccer team. As for “reliable,” well, Weingart has been nothing if not reliable for the Porters.
Weingart, the only remaining player from the 2010 team, can be relied upon to do his job, do it well, and do it from start to finish. If anyone understands the value of effort, it’s Weingart. He believes that it was his effort that earned him a place on the varsity team as a freshman and elevated him immediately to a starting position.
“I know what I’m going to get from Ryan,” Greenport/Shelter Island coach Chris Golden said. “Ryan’s going to give me everything he has. That kid, there’s no regrets. At the end of the day, we walk off that field, ‘I played the best I can play.’ I can’t ask for anything more than that.”
The Porters, who began preseason practice on Monday, have been dramatically revamped. They lost six starters from last year’s 6-9-2 team that reached the Suffolk County Class C semifinals, but they really lost more than that.
“Really, what we lost was a lot of experience, kids who had played three-plus years,” said Golden.
Of the 26 players who reported to the team by Tuesday, Golden estimated that 15 of them are freshmen or sophomores. Six are seniors and two are juniors. That is a young group.
“This is going to be a different year,” Golden said. “We will start freshmen this year.”
Meanwhile, the leadership mantle has been handed to Weingart and Austin Hooks, a senior who has been moved from goalkeeper to striker in the hope that his 6-foot-3 frame will help him head in some goals.
Hooks had played in the field when he was in junior high school before being moved to goal for the junior varsity team. Alex Perez and Richard Torres, two sophomores who played for the junior varsity team last year, are contending for the starting goalkeeper job.
Charlie Binder, a senior outside midfielder from Shelter Island, has starting experience, as does senior midfielder Eddie Rogers and two sophomores, forward Bryon Rivas and defender Angel Colon.
“We’re not going to have a bunch of skill guys,” Weingart said, “but we are going to have a bunch of hard workers, and I like that.”
The versatile Weingart will most likely be found playing midfield, but he can play anywhere on the field.
“I’m going to be moving around a lot this year,” he said. “I can expect that, and I’m ready for it. I was made to play.”
He isn’t kidding.
Golden called Weingart a “minutes-eater” who works hard. “He runs the same way in the first minute as he does in the 80th minute,” said Golden.
Weingart has started every varsity game that he has played in. He missed a few games last season after breaking his nose, but even that didn’t keep him off the field for long. During a game late in the season, Weingart vomited on the field, yet kept playing.
“That’s just who I am. I’ll play no matter what,” he said. “I have to. It’s just how I was raised.”
Of course, with all those minutes comes supreme effort, and that is what Golden values most.
“His key quality for this team is his work ethic,” the coach said. “He’s a kid that what he doesn’t have skill-wise, he makes up with hustle, determination and everything else.”
Hooks can attest to that, saying Weingart probably has “the biggest heart on this team. He’s a great player. He never stops hustling.”
One thing Weingart hasn’t done is pick up a lot in the way of statistics. He figures he had an assist or two last season, but he has never scored a goal for the Porters, something he would like to rectify this year. Then again, finishing wasn’t in his job description before.
“I haven’t taken many shots,” he said. “I had so many goal scorers on my previous teams that I wasn’t really the guy to go out there and shoot.”
Surveying new faces on the field during Tuesday’s practice, Weingart said: “I do feel old. It’s a totally different experience. It looks like Greenport has a bright future ahead of it, so that’s good.”
As for him, he said: “It’s a whole new role, a whole new leadership position, whole new players.”
Fortunately for the Porters, though, they have the same old Weingart. Old reliable.