October 27, 2021

Utilizing Unselfish Approach in Stretch Drive, Hun Boys’ Soccer Eyeing MAPL Championship

STARK REALITY: Hun School boys’ soccer player Tyler Stark controls the ball in a game earlier this fall. Junior defender Stark has shored up the back line for Hun, helping it advance to the state Prep A semis and the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals. The Raiders, who fell 5-0 to Pennington last Saturday in the MCT quarters to move to 9-5, play at Steinert on October 27 and at Peddie on October 30 before getting a rematch against Pennington in the Prep A semis on November 1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Pat Quirk liked the way his Hun School boys’ soccer team was playing as it approached tournament time.

“We were stating to click and play really well together,” said Hun head coach Quirk.

“It is really selfless soccer, we emphasize making the extra pass in the box and the guys have been buying into that.”

The Raiders clicked in state Prep A opener, posting a 4-2 win over Blair on October 19.

“We got off to a pretty good start against them. We knew that if we could play soccer we could put a bunch of pressure on them, which is what we like to do,” said Quirk who got two goals from Mass Verduci in the win with Osman Bayazitoglu and Adhityan Tamilselvan adding one apiece.

“The kids stuck to game plan well. Hector [Suriel] was hurt so we didn’t play him. Mass kind of stepped in and played the role. He put two in the back of the net, it was nice for him. It was a good confidence builder. He can create stuff for himself, he has gotten pretty strong on the ball. It is just getting him to put it on the frame — he has a very powerful shot.”

Two days later, in first round of the Mercer County Tournament, eighth-seeded Hun played well at both ends of the field in defeating ninth-seeded Lawrence 3-0.

“Conor Frykholm and John Balian got their first goals of the year; I look at our scoring sheets and it is all over the place, it is awesome,” said Quirk, who also got a goal from William Zeng against the Cardinals.

“A couple of guys have a bunch, but there are a bunch of guys with one or two and a bunch of guys with assists. We scored in the first two minutes against Lawrence, which was very helpful for sure. That gets you rolling, but the defense locked it down. Ayden Isbirian got a nice shutout there, he has been playing pretty big.”

Advancing in both tournaments was important for the Raiders.

“It is always on our list of things to do; host a Mercer County game and host a state game as well,” said Quirk.

“It is definitely one of our goals every season, to advance in both is great.”

Hun’s MCT run was halted last Saturday when it fell 5-0 to top-seeded Pennington and moved to 9-5.

“To beat them, you are going to have to play your best game and they are going to have to be off a little bit,” said Quirk, whose team had lost 3-2 in overtime to Pennington on September 22 in a regular season contest.

“In the first game, they were probably off a little bit. They were probably a little more prepared for us. Maybe they knew what to expect from us, they knew we were going to come out hard. We had a good 21 minutes and then we gave up a couple goals before half. It was 3-0 at one point and we had a PK and I think that could have turned it around a little bit but their goalie made a great save.”

The Raiders will get another shot at powerful Pennington as the foes will meet in the state Prep A semifinals on November 1.

“Our kids played well, it is not like we played poorly. We couldn’t finish our opportunities and they are a good side,” said Quirk.

“They had nothing to be ashamed about, they played really hard. It is just refocus a little bit and just be committed to 100 percent of what we want to do.”

As Hun heads into the final weeks of the season, it is focused on winning Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) crown.

“We are really eyeing that MAPL championship this year, that has been our goal all year,” said Quirk, whose team is 3-0 in MAPL action and plays at Steinert on October 27 and at league foe Peddie on October 30.

“Peddie is on Saturday; from what I understand they have a pretty solid back line and have two center backs that are pretty good. It will be a good battle for sure.”

Quirk has been getting some very good play from senior A.J. Torres, sophomore Joey Bucchere, and junior Tyler Stark.

“A.J. has done a really good job in the back; Joey doesn’t get on the score sheet often but he is a motor in there,” said Quirk.

“Tyler has been playing center back for us and he has been great.”

The squad’s scoring prowess has fueled its successful stretch drive.

“The amount of goals we have been scoring has been huge, it is a big difference from the past,” said Quirk.

“We have a lot of guys scoring; our style of soccer has been awesome. It is what we have been trying to play forever — keeping it on the floor, making the other team make mistakes, and going at teams, not sitting back anymore.”