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Locals lead Highlanders to the top

The Albany BWP Highlanders are proving that the Capital District produces some quality soccer players.

With Sunday's 3-1 victory over Long Island at Union College, the Highlanders sit in first place in the Premier Development League's Northeast Division with a 7-2-2 record.

It's a testament to the hard work these guys put in, said Albany coach F.J. Zwicklbauer. "We don't work a lot on team play. We work a lot on individual skills so that everyone's learning and everyone's progressing, even if they're not playing."

Local players have figured heavily in the Highlanders' success through the first six weeks of the season. Shenendehowa graduate T.J. Popolizio leads the team with seven goals, while Mohonasen grad Roberto Sgueglia has three goals in nearly half of the playing time (824 minutes for Popolizio, 453 minutes for Sgueglia).

Popolizio was one of three former Shen players who made a mark in Sunday's win. Popolizio scored two goals, while David Clemens added the other in support of goaltender Ryan Jones, who won in his second start of the season.

Sunday's starting lineup also featured Shen grad David Burke, Shaker grad Robert Millock and Bethlehem grad Thomas Klim on defense.

"That was my normal starting lineup this season," said Zwicklbauer, a former Guilderland High School standout. "The only difference was that we had David Clemens in there, and we started him because it was his last game with us before he goes back to college."

Ben Arikian scored Long Island's lone goal early in the first half before Popolizio tied the game in the 24th minute. Albany struck for another goal later in the first half to grab the lead for good.

The Highlanders found themselves in another hole last weekend when they hosted Westchester. The visitors scored less than 10 minutes into the first half, but Albany's Sam DeMello tallied midway through the second half to give the Highlanders a 1-1 tie.

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