When the Southold High School boys soccer team said goodbye to the graduated Evan Miller, it also bid a sad farewell to the staggering 30 goals he pumped in last season and said hello to a new problem. How exactly are the First Settlers going to make up for the loss of those 30 goals?
“Who are we going to get 30 goals from?” asked coach Andrew Sadowski.
Good question. Almost certainly, they will not come from one player. Thirty-goal scorers are few and far between. A more likely scenario would be for five or six players to contribute a handful of goals each.
With that in mind, others are being looked to for balanced offensive production. Players like Drew Sacher, Will Richter, Sean Moran and Shayne Johnson are expected to dent the net every now and then. Zach Ellis will move up from the back line for set pieces. Even Kenji Fujita, a converted goalkeeper who has moved to the field, has the potential to put shots in the net as opposed to his old job of stopping them. It will be a collective effort.
“We’re going to need it from everybody,” said Sadowski, who marked his 20th year as Southold’s coach with the start of two-a-day preseason practices on Monday.
Sadowski said he had a number of conversations with his players about dealing with the loss of a 30-goal scorer. “I think that they each need to take the responsibility of scoring goals when they have the opportunity,” he said. “I think we’re going to see a good balance of goal scorers throughout the team. I don’t foresee anyone scoring big, huge numbers of goals, but who knows?”
Sacher and Richter, who are both senior midfielders and three-year varsity starters, are seen as the most likely candidates to find the net on a consistent basis.
“I think we’re going to get goals from a lot of people,” Sacher said, “but yeah, I feel like some of it is definitely shoveled off to Will and I, but I think we’ll be all right.”
Richter didn’t sound worried, either. “We don’t really have anyone to just rely on,” he said. “We just got to work together more. I think the goals will come.”
Sadowski said Southold’s team play improved in the recent Town of Brookhaven Summer League season, and that is a positive sign.
As is the form Sacher has shown. Sadowski said the all-conference player’s skills have “really improved.”
Richter noticed it, too, saying, “He just got a lot faster, a lot better touch and, hopefully, more goals.”
In central midfield, Sacher is counted on for his ability to hold the ball and distribute passes.
“I think the summer league helped everyone,” Sadowski said. “The one area where it really helped Drew is that he began to get a better understanding that there’s no more Evan around, and he’s going to have to work harder. The big, huge difference is Drew is not that pure goal scorer. He really is the one that’s going to distribute the ball. He’s going to take a defender on and he’s going to be able to play it off and set someone else up.”
While acknowledging that he is more of a playmaker, Sacher conceded that he may have to alter his game somewhat, given the circumstances. “I may have to be a little more selfish and take it myself a little bit more often,” he said, “but I think with guys like Will and Kenji and Shayne playing up top, I think that, yeah, they’re no Evan, but I think they can definitely score some goals as well.”
Since winning a Long Island championship in 2008, Southold has ended its past four seasons with playoff losses to Port Jefferson, three of them coming county Class C finals. But with Port Jefferson, a state champion the past two years, having been bumped up to Class B, Southold senses an opportunity to advance beyond the county playoffs.
“I’ve had enough of it already,” Sacher said. “I want to make it past countys, for sure.”
Some goals would help.