Wallenpaupack Area boys attend LSL Media Day Luncheon

A seasoned squad packed with senior skill moved Wallenpaupack Area’s varsity boys soccer team as far as the District 2 Class AAA semifinals last fall after forging a stellar 11-2-1 record.

Sadly, the spirited bout versus Crestwood ended their march to a title.

A loss of 10 players to graduation and an ever-developing pool of talent across the Lackawanna Soccer League points to Paupack struggling to stay afloat in a tough Division 1.

However, a younger, hungry host of Bucks could prove the spoiler in the league should they rise to the occasion.

“We’re a little bit young in terms of experience,” stated Head Coach Scott Bonagura. “We had two strong varsity teams the last two years and it was hard to get those younger players a lot of varsity time.”

Finding a replacement for Kasper Zaba-Poplawski will be Bonagura’s biggest challenge. As a junior he led the division in scoring and was second last season.

According to the Paupack skipper, he accounted for 80 percent of the team’s points last fall.

Upper Leadership

Most likely to lead the offense for the Purple and White this year is senior Izaiah Santiago.

With five goals and three assists, “The Iceman” was seventh in scoring in division and posted similar stats the previous year.

Santiago was one of the few consistent starters last year that was not a senior. Another was defender Shane Weis.

A menace in the back, Weis is one of the most aggressive defensive players in the league, and also has the ability to take the ball to the net.

“We don’t have a lot of varsity experience,” said Santiago. “But we have come together as a team and I think we talk and communicate well.”

Steven Barone, Tyler Graham, Darrien Roos, Matthew Waz, Matthew Benidito, Phoenix Garvin, and Sean Vennie round out the remaining seniors playing in the field.

Anthony Ioppolo will be tending the net at least part of the time this season.

“The team has a lot of chemistry,” Vennie said.

“We don’t have the varsity experience, but we’ve all been playing together for a long time.

“We’re all good friends and know how to work with each other.”

Up & Coming

Tenth and eleventh graders are likely going to play a large part in the Buckhorns plans this season.

Junior Ben Falgie will share keeper duties with Ioppolo but also has the ability to play the field.

Classmate Konrad Zaba-Poplawski is also an emerging offensive force and other juniors, Thomas Principe and Michael Pitino have logged some varsity minutes in the past.

Sophomore Ashton Struck had a trio of assists last year and fellow class member Luke Kiesendahl made contributions last fall as well.

Additionally, there are a sizable number of sophomores and incoming freshmen that possess both skill and drive but are completely untested at the varsity level.

On the Card

“How we do our first week will show us how the season will go,” Santiago said. “We’ve got Prep and Abington as soon as we start league play.”

Pre-season action has the Buckhorns facing East Stroudsburg North on 8/26 at 4 p.m. Moravian Academy at 1:30 p.m. on 8/30; and Hamburg on 8/31 at 3:30 p.m. All three matches are at home.

LSL play commences on the road at Prep on 9/3. Abington Heights comes to visit on 9/5.

Paupack journeys to Delaware Valley for a 6 p.m. match on 9/10 and then welcomes Valley View on 9/12. The Bucks venture to the Maple City on 9/17 to face Honesdale and then close the first half of the season at home against North Pocono on 9/19 and Scranton on 9/21 at 11 a.m.

Prep visits on 9/24; Paupack is at Abington on 9/26; DV arrives on 9/30.

The Bucks are at Valley View on 10/2 at 5:45 p.m.

Holy Redeemer is scheduled to visit on 10/4 for a non-league match; Senior Night will be a 6 p.m. start on 10/7 when Honesdale lands on the shores of the Big Lake.

On 10/9 the Buckhorns visit North Pocono at 5:30 p.m. It’s a 6 p.m. start at Scranton 10/15; and Mountain View is slated to show up on 10/16 for the last game of the season.

Kickoff time for all games is 4:15 p.m. unless otherwise noted.

“A lot of other teams got a lot of valuable minutes for their players last year,” said Coach Bonagura. “They are a year older with many of the same players where Paupack is a younger team.

“This year will be tougher for us than the past couple of seasons. I think if we can get our fitness level up and stay healthy, we’ll have a great season.”