GETTING A LEG UP: Hun School boys’ soccer player Jack Tarzy displays his skills in a game last fall as he controls the ball under pressure. Junior defender/midfielder Tarzy figures to be a key player for the Raiders this fall. Hun begin its 2020 campaign by hosting Life Center Academy on October 3. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Pat Quirk wasn’t sure if his Hun School boys’ soccer team would ever hit the field for the 2020 season.
With rivals Peddie and Lawrenceville canceling their fall sports due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Quirk was relieved and grateful when Hun gave its teams the green light to start their season.
“We are extremely lucky that the school is letting us have this activity,” said Raider head coach Quirk, who is in his 13th season at the helm of the program and guided the squad to a 6-10-3 record last fall as it advanced to the state Prep A semifinals and the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals.
“I think we are the only MAPL (Mid-Atlantic Prep League) school that is trying to have competition.”
While Hun is savoring the chance to compete, it is being cautious as it trains.
“Our school was very conservative when it came to allowing us to practice over the summer,” said Quirk.
“They gave us a week in August and then we hit that state two-week dead period. They allowed us to come out and we started tryouts on September 14. We just split into a junior varsity and varsity on Wednesday so the varsity has only really been playing together for the last three days. That is the biggest thing we tell them — you guys hold the season in your hands. Basically, we are still playing with masks on when we are practicing.”
The Raider players are thrilled to be back together. “They are excited, especially the seniors,” said Quirk, whose team starts its 2020 campaign when it hosts the Life Center Academy on October 3.
“They saw what happened to the spring athletes. We just keep saying that the goal is going to look different this year as a whole. The overall goal is always just to get better each day and to have fun with your friends and just to enjoy the opportunity that we have.”
A lot of players should get the opportunity to see action this fall for Hun.
“As long as I can remember, we haven’t had this deep a roster,” said Quirk.
“We have 19 kids and I would say one through 18 would probably see the field any day. It is going to be tough; we are going to have to find spots for guys.”
At forward, Quirk has a number of guys who could fill that spot in senior Amar Anand, sophomore Massimiliano Verduci, senior Levin Willems, and junior Hector Suriel.
“Amar can score a lot of goals so we could put him up there top as a senior and leader,” said Quirk.
“We are still toying with a couple of ideas. Mas scored a couple of goals for us last year and he is looking pretty good. Levin can get mixed in up there. Hector is a new kid from the Dominican who just got out of quarantine, he was late getting to school. We are expecting him to play up top as well.”
Across the midfield, junior Osman Bayaztoglu, sophomore Tyler Stark, junior Aden Spektor, freshman Conor Frykholm, and sophomore Will Zeng are in the mix.
“We have Osman in the midfield and maybe Tyler and Aden,” said Quirk.
“Conor is a freshman that came up from the middle school and has been doing well in practice. Will will probably play somewhere in the midfield.”
On defense, Quirk will be looking at junior Jack Tarzy, junior Lucas Mazzoni, junior John Balian, junior A.J. Torres, and freshman Joey Bucchere, among others.
“We see Jack right now in the back, he has played there a little bit in the past and he does well with the game in front of him and distributing,” said Quirk.
“Also in the back will be Aiden or Tyler; whoever is not in the midfield will probably play back there. Lucas has been pretty strong for us on the left side. He will be playing in a wingback area. John will also be on defense and A.J. will be too. We have a new freshman Joey who reminds me of Gibson Campbell ’20. He has got pace and a lot of ball control.”
Senior star goalie Alex Donahue will be controlling the defensive end of the field for Hun.
“Alex has one more year, he got bigger and he worked hard,” said Quirk.
“As soon as gyms were open, he got going and was back into it. He is a voice in the back. He can control his back line and distribute the ball.”
While 2020 figures to be an unusual year as Hun navigates the COVID-19 situation, Quirk believes his players will make the most of things.
“It is just enjoying the opportunity that we have and working to come together as a team,” said Quirk.
“We are going to get this opportunity right now to train with each other and to really grow as a unit and really build this bond that we continually talk about. It is just supporting each other, being good teammates with each other.”