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The Young and The Winless; High Hopes For Central Soccer

Going from last to first usually takes time. Professional sports clubs have 3-5 year rebuilds to get back to the top of the standings. The Cheektowaga Warriors Boys Soccer team believes they can rise up from the bottom of the league to contend with the best of the best.

In Cheektowaga Central’s history, there is only one soccer team that has ever brought home a championship of any kind. That team was the 2009 ECIC 3 divisional champions. Since then, Cheektowaga has seemed to slip down in the standings year by year. Last season, the Warriors finished with a record of 0-15 (0-12 league in play), ending in last place in the division and class, with a ranking of 28th out of all 30 Section VI teams.

A positive that Coach Matt Haberl takes out of a disappointing season last year is getting younger players a season of experience at the varsity level. “We built our chemistry last year, and these kids didn’t quit on each other, even though we didn’t win a game.” Not mentioning the number of juniors who started for the 2015 Warriors, there were four sophomores and one freshman called up to Varsity last year.

The youth movement is in full effect at Central, as you can tell by their starting lineup including juniors Erik Muscoreil, Arthur Jordan, Nathan Obstarczyk, and Alec Zimmerman alongside sophomore Chris Bevan as well as freshman Sultan Ahmed. In fact, Ahmed, Muscoreil, and Jordan account for all five Warrior goals in the team’s first three games this year.

Though the younger players are taking on a big role this year, a group of very talented seniors give the Warriors a core to work with. That core is made up of seniors Steven Austin, Yanick Ndjibu, Tim Cultrara, and captain Kyle Krzanowicz. Austin and Ndjibu, two extremely skilled and smart players, did not play last year for personal reasons.

There is only one major loss to graduation from last year’s team, and it comes at, arguably, the most important position, goalkeeper. Anthony Grabp, who also was the kicker for the football team, was a senior last season, leaving a spot open for a new keeper. Ryan Moretta, junior, has been preparing to assume this position for quite some time. He has played soccer nearly his whole life, and on major teams like GPS and BSA in the premier league, while attending UB Keeper and Prospects camps. Moretta has been a rock for the team in the backfield thus far, leading the Warriors to second place in the Frontier Tournament, saving over 25 shots in only two games in the tournament.

Senior captain Kyle Krzanowicz has been with the team since he was a sophomore, and he says this is the best team he has been a part of. “This team is the most solid, most connected that we’ve had. Everyone is on the same page and has the same goals.” When talking about how great of a leader Krzanowicz is, Coach Haberl says, “he’s a true captain. He shows leadership; he shows by doing, and then demanding second. He’s at practice bringing the enthusiasm each day. The motivation and the knowledge that he expresses to his players is very valuable to this team.” Another player who got an early start at the varsity level is junior Arthur Jordan, who got called up his 8th grade year. Jordan also feels that this team has a shot at greatness, “By far, this is the best team I’ve played with. We’re able to win a division title, I think.”

“Everyone’s goal is to win a championship. Whether it’s state, section. league, division, whatever it is, we want to win a championship,” comments Steven Austin, mirroring his coach’s response. When asked for a season goal, Coach Haberl states, “It’s always been to win a championship. I coach to win, but obviously along the way we’re gonna learn other attributes: the character, and respect is huge in my part.”

Winning a state title, let alone, a divisional title is not as easy as it sounds; just ask East Aurora about that. The Blue Devils, who have been atop the Warriors division along with Starpoint since 2009, won the state championship in 2015. Cheektowaga and Coach Haberl, however, feel they can compete and beat EA this season. “We have the motivation, we have the talent, so just learning from each other and working with each other day in and day out is how we can beat those guys.”

The Warriors season is underway already. They currently stand with a record of 1-2 overall, coming in second at the Frontier Tournament, and losing a close match to Lakeshore on Tuesday. Cheektowaga hosts Depew on Friday at 5:00, and then heads to Maryvale Tuesday the 6th to take on the Flyers at 4:45.

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