Featuring a Battle-Tested Group of Senior Stalwarts, Hun Boys’ Soccer Aiming to Continue Upward Trend
GOING PLACES: Hun School boys’ soccer goalie Diego Pena clears the ball in a game last season. Junior Pena emerged as a star last fall for Hun. The Raiders were slated to start their 2023 season by playing at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy (Pa.) on September 12, host Delran High on September 15, and then face the Pingry School on September 17 in the Mainline Jamboree in Downingtown, Pa. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Over the last two years, the Hun School boys’ soccer has been on an upward trajectory, going 10-7 in 2021 and improving to 12-4-2 last fall.
Welcoming back a battle-tested crew of seniors, Hun head coach Pat Quirk believes his squad can continue that trend.
“The senior class has been part of the program for the last two, three years when we did really well in the MAPL league (Mid-Atlantic Prep League) and have been able to have some big wins off some good programs,” said Quirk, whose team tied for the MAPL title last fall with a 4-0-1 league record. “It has definitely given them a lot of confidence.”
Quirk has confidence that his forward unit of junior Luciano Verduci, senior Zachary Stark, junior Toba Olaleye, sophomore Donovan Hayes, sophomore Christian Wolfe, and sophomore Noah Silvestri can produce around the goal.
“During the preseason, Luciano Verduci, Mass’ younger brother, has stepped up into that role,” said Quirk, referring to Mass Verduci, a former Hun star who graduated this past spring. “He has been on JV for the last two years and scored a bunch of goals. He has that same talent as his brother, I am going to outwork you inside the box and I am going to score. We will play a couple of wingers. Zachary is going to be there on the wing. Toba will probably play out there. Donovan and Christian are two sophomores as well as Noah, they are a little more inexperienced guys.”
Senior Conor Frykholm brings a lot of talent and experience to the midfield.
“Conor is huge, he will be a great leader in the midfield,” said Quirk of Frykholm, who tallied 12 goals and three assists in 2022. “He has gotten a little more physical, he has gotten stronger. He is working on his work rate. He is committed to Babson and wants to play at a high level. It is our goal to send him off there as best prepared as we can. He will hit a bunch of our set pieces. He will have a lot of opportunity there and on corner kicks. He is going to be a target guy for us and he can shoot from outside.”
Another key guy for Hun in the middle of the field will be senior Michael D’Aulerio.
“Mike is going to move into the midfield and play more of an attacking role where he is going to be more comfortable,” said Quirk. “He played awesome in the back for us last year when we asked him to. He is just a workhorse, he never stops. He is so good with the feet, he sees the field really well. He is going to be a guy that sets up a lot of goals.”
The trio of sophomore Chris Meehan, junior Marius So, and junior Max Frost will also see time in the midfield.
“Chris played a little bit last year,” said Quirk. “We have a new junior Marius who came from China who is a really nice surprise and a good technical player. Max came up through the JV program.”
On defense, senior Alden Hill, junior Bradford Barnes, senior Shea Braun, and junior Austin Rollins will spearhead the back line.
“We have got Alden who is back, he played one of our center backs last year and will continue there,” said Quirk. “Bradford also returns, he was in and out of the starting lineup last year. Shea was with the varsity last year but didn’t see much time. He has been looking really good as an outside attacking guy. Austin is back with the program, he has been looking really good. He is another guy who will look to get dangerous — I wouldn’t be surprised if he scores a bunch from back there.”
Junior goalie Diego Pena emerged as star last fall in his first season as a starter.
“He is a huge asset for us,” said Quick, noting that Pena missed the beginning of preseason to train in the Dominican Republic where he is with their national program. “He is going to keep us in a ton of games. He is somebody the kids trust. They are not afraid to play back to him, his footwork is as good as anyone else’s on the team. He will move into a more leadership role as a junior.”
With Hun slated to start its 2023 campaign by playing at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy (Pa.) on September 12, hosting Delran High on September 15, and then facing the Pingry School on September 17 in the Mainline Jamboree in Downingtown, Pa., Quirk is expecting the Raiders to have a very good season.
“We have a very strong group of guys that have really come together during preseason,” asserted Quirk. “We have to continue to stay healthy. It is also trusting in each other. We talk a lot about finding the next guy, making the extra pass and trusting your teammate that he is going to do the same.”