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With a 3-0 league record and an 8-1 overall mark, the Hamburg High School boys’ soccer team is off to a great start. After a 5-7 league record last year, and a 2-9-2 mark in 2010, the Hawks have made great strides in 2012.
You can give some of the credit to team captain Steve Maenza. Already he has 11 goals and three assists for 25 points in 2012, just three points behind his team-leading 28 points last year. He has used his great speed and aggressiveness to pile up the goals.
“His style of play is all or nothing,” said Hamburg Head Coach Chris Zalasky. “That’s what you want out of a forward, a player who will have a nose for the ball and a will to score. That’s how he scores goals.”
Maenza gives much of the credit to his teammates for his big season. He’s enjoying the success of the team and has high hopes for the rest of the season.
“The biggest reason for my success is the players I have around me,” he said. “This is the best team I have ever played for and I’m so grateful to be apart of this team. It’s not about the stats or who scores the most for any of us. It’s all about winning every game and going out and playing 100% for 80 minutes or more if needed. This year I have just been putting away the chances I’ve had, compared to last year where my composure was a little suspect at times.
“The team has been playing great so far,” he added. “Obviously we aren’t perfect and still have things to work on, but I think if any team was asked to take an 8-1 record in the first nine games, they wouldn’t hesitate. The thing we all agree on though is that it doesn’t matter about how have we’ve played, but how we need to play to win our next game. Once a game is over it’s on to preparing for the next one. But so far this season I’m more than happy with the outcome of our games.
On top of his ability to score goals, Maenza has been a very effective leader on the team. He has taken that responsibility seriously both on and off the field.
“He is a wonderful leader who pushes the other boys to do their best in games and practices,” said Coach Zalasky. He and the rest of the captains have set a culture that losing is not okay.
“When I complimented him one time about being a good leader this year, his response was that coming up through the soccer program, his team has never been a winner. He was tired of losing. In his senior year he will do whatever it takes to win.”
Maenza has set a goal for himself to lead the league in scoring in 2012. So far he’s looking as far as that is concerned. With 25 points, he is eight points ahead of his closest competitor. He has the confidence to reach that goal, reaching that goal is just a means to his number one goal.
“My first goal is to help the team win and go as far as we possibly can this year,” he said. “If being the leading scorer (in the league) is what will help us win, then that is what I will do. If I achieve my goal of leading scorer, that would be awesome. But if I don’t, as long as the team wins, that’s all that matters to me.”
So far the Hawks have put it all together. In their nine games, the Hawks have outscored their opponents, 27-7. No team has close to that many goals scored. One of the two players with 17 points this season is teammate Austin Freeman who had six goals and five assists. He is one of several players that have the ability to score if Maenza can’t beat the double coverage. It’s that depth that has made the biggest difference this year.
“If I’m double covered and don’t have chances to score, that leaves anyone else open for the opportunities and I have 100% confidence in any player on this team to come up big and score the goals we need to win,” said Maenza.
But can this team continue to play this well when playoff time comes around and they go up against some of the bigger schools in the county?
“That’s a hard question to answer at this point in the season,” he said. “I would like to think so, but we are only halfway through and are just hitting the thick of our season now. With beating some quality teams so far, I think we have the skill to go far and possibly be league champs, but with our lack of experience in post season play is what I personally thinkmay be a challenge to us when that time comes.”
Only time will tell when it comes to the playoffs. Right now the team just wants to keep winning and try to win the division title. After that, we’ll see what is in their future.