The first day of school this week brought the return of high school sports, as athletes across the region take to the soccer and field hockey pitches, cross country trails and golf courses to get their fall seasons rolling.

The News & Citizen checked in with Peoples Academy boys soccer coach Angie Faraci to see what to expect this season. Here’s a look.

Q: Record and postseason results from last year?

A: 9-4-1 record in the regular season, lost in the Division 3 semifinals to Twin Valley to finish with a final record of 11-5-1.

Q: Turnout this season?

A: 23 players total, one team at the varsity level. We have seven freshmen, six sophomores, eight juniors and two seniors.

Q: Key returnees, or experienced players who will be playing major minutes? 

A: Senior Joe Buonnano, a goalkeeper for two years and a key impact player on the field last year. A defender this year and a captain last year and this year.

Landon Dubie and Tony White, junior defenders who will anchor the back. Both have good work ethics and communicate well to teammates.

Tamirat Tomlinson, a junior who will defend and play midfielder. He has speed and is a tremendous worker.

Gabe Carlson, a junior, and Oliver Nigro, a sophomore, will play central midfield roles. They are in the middle of our field and will create opportunities for us. Gabe is a fantastic support player and Ollie is strong on the ball and defense. Ollie scored six goals and had six assists last year as a freshman.

Charlie Veit and Reese Wheeler, both juniors. Charlie will run the flank and came into the season fit. He will open opportunities for us on the wing both defensively and offensively. Reese will join us as a target player either on the front line or center midfield.

Dylan Haskins, junior goalkeeper, had 117 saves last year with four shutouts. He’s a very technical keeper who can use his natural instinct to make fantastic saves. He communicates well with the team and supports every play.

Q: Key newcomers to the team? What roles will they play?

A: Norris Duff, a sophomore transfer from Stowe, has great skills with the ball, a nose for the goal, and is a good target player. He will create scoring opportunities for himself and the team. Tenacious on defense.

Nathan Nolan, a freshman who is quick with his feet, has great ball control and speed on the midfield flank. 

Sawyer Beck and Ivan Buczek, both freshmen with the will to work hard. Both will play target roles with the ability to hold a ball to distribute and create space to play.

Q: What are some of the strengths of the team?

A: We have a core group of eight juniors that play year round and are ready to compete this season. Our keeper has a year at varsity under his belt and will use that experience. Our core players are returnees who have played together for years, the group works really well together and is very supportive of one another. Our new players will fill some big roles this season and they are skilled enough to do so.

Q: Are there any areas you’re hoping to see improvement?

A: The growth of the younger players is vital to our success as a program. The 23 players are all responsible for pushing each other to improve on a daily basis. I am hoping the older players will take on a greater leadership role and the team will work on our cohesiveness on defense and connections to finish goals.

Q: Will you be emphasizing any style of play or formation, especially to begin the year?

A: We are working on a 4-4-2 formation to utilize a possession style of play that will allow more players to get forward and at the same time create a greater number of defensive players behind the ball. 

Q: Matchups with key rivals?

A: The players have their favorite games; Stowe is always at the top of the list, as the communities feel it is a big rivalry between the two schools. We have games that the team want to get back from the previous year, so playing them now is a big motivator: Harwood, Stowe, U-32, Northfield-Williamstown, North Country and Lake Region are always competitive games.

Q: Expectations for the season? 

A: To play as a cohesive team in a couple of different formations. To feel success on and off the field ... training hard, improving each day, mentoring local youth soccer kids, and putting some wins under our belt.

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