Boys soccer: Panthers retooling after historic campaign

Masuk High soccer coaches (l-r) Sanna Sarr, assistant girls coach, Antonio Viscuso, boys varsity head coach, and Jason Golesky, girls varsity head coach.

Coming off a campaign in which it reached the state final for the first time in school history, Masuk High boys soccer will look to build on that success in 2018.

The Panthers went 20-3-1 overall last year, finishing runners-up in both the South-West Conference and Class L state tournaments.

“We set the standard last year and once you taste that, you’re going to want to replicate what you did,” Masuk head coach Antonio Viscuso said. “But at the same time you have to be a realistic and understand that you have to replace basically irreplaceable players. The numbers that we put up last year, individual and team, is something I’ve never seen in 17 years of coaching.”

There will be a lot of turnover for the Panthers this fall, as 15 seniors graduated. Masuk also lost prolific striker Ryan Winkler, a would-be senior, who is playing Academy soccer.

“We’re happy for him and supportive,” said Viscuso of the Princeton-bound Winkler. “We’re not a program that we’re upset about that. We’re 100 percent supportive of Ryan. He’s family. He’s a part of this, no matter what.”

To combat the heavy toll of losses, Masuk will rely on its core philosophy — a system of turning defense into offense via a counter-attacking brand of soccer.

“Structure and discipline at the back” said Viscuso, who is in his seventh year with the Panthers.

Masuk conceded more than one goal just one time all season, in its 2-1 loss to Daniel Hand in the Class L championship.

Senior defenders Aidan McShane and Sean Murray, two key members of that unit, are back to marshal the defense.

“They’ve been doing a great job,” Viscuso said. “We’re trying to build our backline. Our L.O.D., our legion of doom last year. We’re taking applications. We want to strengthen that backline.”

With Joel Barlow of Redding, Newtown and Brookfield once again fielding strong sides, the SWC looks to again be ultra-competitive.

“They’re going to want to come after us after what we did last year,” Viscuso said. “They’ll all want to give us a good match.”

Masuk travels to Mustang Valley in Danbury to face Immaculate in the season opener on Sept. 6 at 4 p.m.

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