Hawthorne Soccer
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Members of the Hawthorne boys’ varsity soccer team make sure they keep their focus on winning. The team won back-to-back double overtime games this season on consecutive days. While some teams might have gotten on an emotional high after the first win and not played well in the second game, the Bears didn’t.
The Bears’ game is predicated on solid play from the goalkeeper, playing defense well, and playing excellent transition offense.
Second-year coach Ryan DeFeo said he has learned a lot from watching other coaches on the sidelines. DeFeo coached the junior varsity team for five years before taking the reigns of the varsity team. The team finished with an 8-11 record last season, the Bears’ best record in 10 years. As of deadline, the team had a 7-1-1 record.
“At the junior varsity level we focus on developing the building the kids’ skill sets,” DeFeo said. “At the varsity level we are more geared toward winning and competition.”
There are 16 seniors on the team this season.
“You can’t play scared,” DeFeo said. “Good teams find a way to win good, bad, or ugly. We don’t blame the referees and we don’t blame anyone else but ourselves. We just impute our game plan.”
Players on the team make sure they are accountable for their actions.
“We own up to our mistakes and fix them,” DeFeo said. “Everybody has to leave their ego aside, you can’t have an ego.”
DeFeo could be called the Boy Wonder of soccer coaches. He’s 28 and brings a youthful optimism and outlook that more seasoned coaches might not possess. Winning excites DeFeo as much as it does his players.
“I try to take a lot of stuff in,” DeFeo said. “I try and talk to the other coaches in the league. I ask questions. I don’t want to come across as arrogant. I’m open to any kind of suggestions. Last year was difficult. I feel much more comfortable this year. I can focus more on game planning and strategy. It’s a different mentality at the varsity level. I’m learning how to keep my emotions in check. I think the benefit to being a younger coach is that I’m fiery. For me, coaching is a daily learning process.”
Trust is an integral part of success for the Bears.
“He’s full of confidence and he has confidence in us,” senior captain Joseph Corasaniti said. “That gives us the ability for us to go out there as a team and conquer whatever we have to do.”
DeFeo said that one thing the boys have to do believe that they are a good team. The seniors and juniors on the team were used to losing and that can be a difficult thing to erase from one’s memory.
“Everyone’s nervous to make a mistake,” DeFeo said. “What I tell these guys is that I’d rather see you make a mistake being aggressive and playing your game than playing tentatively and not playing your game.
If everybody does his job, then you’ve got nothing to be worried about or be ashamed about. I give them a lot of credit for their desire to win this year.”
DeFeo wants his players to be honest with him because he is honest with them.
“He expects the team to be prepared, that we try our hardest because he tries his hardest,” said senior captain Joseph Corasaniti.
Players have to be honest enough to admit when they messed up and then move onto the next task. It wasn’t the first time they messed up and it won’t be the last.
“Everybody here wants to win and everyone wants to do well,” DeFeo said. “Everyone has to check their egos at the door. It’s hard because they are teenage boys and everyone wants to get their name in the paper the next day. You can’t have an ego and play sports. The best 11 guys are going to be on the field, it’s not based on age.”
Some players have played for DeFeo when he was the junior varsity coach.
Senior captain Steven Pruiksma isn’t surprised at how well the team is performing this season. Some of the kids have played together for 10 years.
“We want to be better than we were last year,” Pruiksma said. “We best ourselves up when we lose.”
DeFeo’s players enjoy playing for him.
“He’s a fresh face. He’s that motivating factor that we’ve always been looking for,” Vitello said. “We have great respect for him and will do whatever it takes for us to win for him.”
Vitello played for DeFeo on the junior varsity team for two years before moving up with DeFeo to varsity.
“We want to win so bad. This year coming in we knew it was going to be our final year playing together,” Vitello said. “Everyone has one goal: To win. Everyone picks up on coach’s personality. He’s got that will to win. We’re all playing as hard as we can.”

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