Old Forge returns three senior starters in Adam Barsigian, J Argonish and Ian Nemetz.photo by rick notari
Four years ago when the Old Forge varsity soccer program was born, Head Coach John Argonish set the same standards for his program that had been entrenched in Blue Devils athletics for decades before.
Work hard. Play harder. And do not settle for being anything less than being competitive while striving to win. Four years later, the Blue Devils have done just that.
Old Forge is coming off its best season and return their all-time goal-scorer and points leader in addition to two other two-year starters, and a bevy of experienced underclassmen as it seeks to continue the progress made in their first three years.
“We want to definitely improve upon what we did last year,” said Argonish of his team’s 8-6 finish in the Lackawanna Soccer League’s Division III. “We want to continually get better in every practice and every game.
“It’s hard when you lose the caliber of players we did, but we have high expectations and think we can compete with everyone in our division.”
Those expectations come with the fact that the Blue Devils return seniors J Argonish, the coach’s son, along with Ian Nemetz and Adam Barsigian.
Argonish has scored a school-best 18 goals and 15 assists in his three-year career, while Nemetz has seven goals and five assists to his credit. Barsigian is the top defender returning for Old Forge.
“It’s no secret J is our best player and he is going to get a lot of double teams and shadowing this year,” said Coach Argonish. “He is going to have to be the facilitator for us. The offense will go through him at midfield. We will also use him at forward and maybe even as a defender depending on the situation.
“Ian is going to be a guy we rely on heavily (at midfield). He has some big shoes to fill, but he’s really looked good and has worked really hard. Adam will anchor the defense. We are looking to him to take control there.”
The senior trio are not the only experienced players the Blue Devils return.
Juniors Matt Mancuso, Tyler Cavalari and Jared Heckman all return to an Old Forge team that qualified for a District 2 Class 1A play-in game.
Mancuso scored five goals last season with three assists, while Cavalari and Heckman played more on the defensive side of the ball.
“Mancuso has really impressed us with his improvement from last year,” said Coach Argonish. “You are going to see a lot of offense from matt and J. They work really well together.
“Heckman and Cavalari are going to be used more on offense, depending on the formation. We have worked a lot on passing this year and we are going to see a lot more offense from both guys. We just need them to become more offensive minded.”
Sophomores Robert Donovan and Jimmy Aversa also return after seeing limited action at midfield as freshmen. Donovan will play one of the defender spots while Aversa will be used again at midfield.
Newcomer Christian Mozeleski will step into the defense, along with senior Phil Scavo who has worked hard to earn some playing time.
The most inexperienced position on the field for the Blue Devils is probably the most important. Old Forge must replace the only goalkeeper they have known in Jason Sniegowski who graduated. But Coach Argonish feels he has found a solid replacement in senior Corey Washington.
“Corey has looked good at times, but has also looked inexperienced,” said Coach Argonish. “But in fairness to him, it’s faster at this level and he is working hard to adjust. He’s working harder then I’ve ever seen him work. He is really focused and that’s great to see.”
One thing that could hold the Blue Devils back is their lack of depth.
“We are not very deep,” said Coach Argonish of his 22-man roster, six of which are girls. “Our key players have to stay healthy. If we can stay healthy, we should be successful.”