By Jim Hague
Jesse Dembowski’s first year as the head boys’ soccer coach at North Arlington High School wasn’t a bad one, as the Vikings posted a 10-8-1 record and qualified for the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group I playoffs.
As he begins his second year, Dembowski knows that he has some work to do, since the Vikings lost 11 players to graduation last June.
“Coming back for a second year has been easier, with a smoother transition, but losing 11 players for a Group I school is pretty big,” Dembowski said. “We lost a lot of key people and that’s made things pretty tough. We’re coming back with a lot of inexperienced players. We don’t have a lot of varsity experience.”
One of the key returnees is senior forward Tyler Krychkowski, who scored 23 goals last season.
“Tyler has been a big help,” Dembowski said. “We definitely need him to score again, but we also need him to relieve the defense for others to get involved. I know other teams are going to be on top of him, so that’s why others have to step up. Maybe Tyler can assist on a few more goals this year, because it’s unfair to ask him to score 23 goals again. It would be beneficial to the team if he could get others involved.”
Another top returnee is senior goalkeeper Robert Marrero, who like Krychkowski is a four-year starter.
“Robert was phenomenal in goal for us last year,” Dembowski said. “He’s much more vocal than he was in the past. He works well with our defenders.”
At least Dembowski has two senior leaders to count on.
“Hey, it could be worse,” the coach laughed.
The sweeper is senior returnee Jordan Henriquez, who has started varsity for the last two seasons.
“He’s ready for the challenge of being our sweeper,” Dembowski said. “He definitely can handle that position.”
The stopper is junior John Cerisola, who according to Dembowski has a “good sense of the game and can make plays from that position, carrying the ball with him.”
John’s twin brother, Justin, is one of the starting defenders.
“They’re doing well together,” Dembowski said of the Cerisola twins. “They’ve grown up together and have more maturity now.”
The other defender will be one of three candidates, namely senior Matt Glarner, senior James Awad or junior Nelson Marques.
Senior Jon Gonzalez has been doing a nice job at midfield.
“He’s been phenomenal with his ball handling and distribution,” Dembowski said.
Two sophomores, namely Danny Cordiero and Derek Perez, are handling the other midfield slots.
“Danny has great speed and good feet,” Dembowski said. “Derek doesn’t play like a sophomore. He’s very poised and has phenomenal knowledge of the game. If we had more kids like those two, we’d be in very good shape. They are both very skilled players.”
The other midfield slot will be among junior Matthew Vieira and sophomore P.J. Sirotiak. Both players will see considerable action this season.
Krychkowski is the focus at forward, joined there by freshman Alex Samaan.
“Alex is an aggressive player who keeps the pressure on the defense,” Dembowski said.
The Vikings open their 2011 season with a showdown with neighboring rival Queen of Peace on Friday, Sept. 9.
“It’s a huge test for us,” Dembowski said. “We played them twice last year and won both times by one goal. I know they have a senior-based team and they’ll be looking for us. It’s a huge test right off the bat.”
Dembowski doesn’t know what the future holds, but he remains optimistic.
“I think we’re going to be competitive,” Dembowski said. “It comes down to communication between the players. If we get down and someone puts their head down, then there will be a domino effect. We have to stay positive. I like the skill of the team. We move the ball around well. We just need to stay focused.”