The Guilderland boys soccer team doesn't have an identity.
Sure, the Dutchmen are the defending Section II, Class AA champions, but most of the crew that led them to the title have graduated, leaving head coach Mike Kinnally with a group of unproven players.
Technically, we're not far off from last year's team in terms of ability, said Kinnally. "The big difference is we don't have players that are as physical as the group we had last year."
The challenge for Guilderland is to find goal scorers following the graduation of Tony Campagnano, Sahr Nyuma, Rory Nunamacher, Pat Quinn, Ryan Ashbough and Kip Stillman.
"We graduated more than 60 goals [between them]," said Kinnally. "It's hard to bounce back from that one."
With a lack of proven goal scorers, the onus will be on the defense to keep Guilderland in games. Fortunately for the Dutchmen, they have goaltender Devin Bailey and defenders Jonathan Wheeler and Chris Talone back to help them.
Still, Kinnally worries that his team " which has 13 seniors on its 20-man roster " may become too cognizant of what has been lost to graduation, especially if the Dutchmen get off to a slow start.
"My biggest fear is that they'll lose games because of our situation, not because of a lack of talent," said Kinnally. "They've got to believe in themselves and buy into [our system]."
The rest of the Suburban Council won't be taking any pity on Guilderland. South Division rivals Bethlehem and Colonie have several returning players, and North Division power Shenendehowa is always a threat.
"Everybody's got dangerous kids, everybody's getting better and kids are going to different [premier] clubs to improve their skills," said Kinnally.
Despite his team's predicament, Kinnally remains optimistic about what the Dutchmen can accomplish.
"Even though it's a rebuilding year, we don't want to be that school that wins a Sectional title, and then you never hear from them again," said Kinnally. "We want to be a program that believes seven or eight wins is a down year, not four or five wins."
Guilderland began its season Tuesday against defending Class A champion Mohonasen. The Dutchmen travel to Colonie Thursday before hosting Columbia Saturday.""