The beginning of each season holds the same hope for Joe Corrado. Whether it’s the fall, when the boys play, or the spring with the girls, there is always anticipation and excitement for the Bayside soccer coach.
Yet the even-keeled Corrado admitted this year is a little bit different. Fresh off the best season in school history - an undefeated league season and final four finish last May - expectations are through the roof.
“I know these kids can get to where they were last year,” he said, “and maybe a little bit further.”
Based on their season opener, that seems like a fair assessment.
Despite starting five starters on the bench because of injuries and “team issues,” and playing star forward Despina Psomopoulos (twisted ankle) for less than a half, the Commodores rolled past William Bryant, 5-0, Monday afternoon.
The start was not nearly as sharp as Corrado had hoped, but the talent divide was more than enough. Only goaltender Elizabeth Mardones and striker Veronica Leon have left a team that is likely the cream of Queens.
Only a sophomore, Psomopoulos is as good of a reason as any for the optimism. Showing little rust, she scored two goals a few minutes apart. While the Bayside native won’t surprise anyone this year, not after scoring 23 goals as a freshman, she is ready for the challenge.
“The pressure’s definitely more,” she said, “but I can deal with it.”
She isn’t alone. Teaming with her upfront is standout junior Seena Sleem and Zoe Margulies, anchored by a solid midfield headed by senior Alex Knese and talented freshman Chelsea Camarcas. In net, sophomore Nicole Carroll is in her first year as a starter, although she has experience - last year Carroll notched four shutouts while filling in for the injured Mardones.
“I think my goalie is going to surprise a lot of people,” Corrado said. “Once Nicole’s hands get a little bit better, she’ll be as good as Liz.”
It is for these reasons that Psomopoulos said they “definitely plan on making it to the city championship. That’s something we want to do, because we have a lot of graduating seniors, so it will be a great time to win it this year.”
Corrado, in his sixth year coaching the girls, has no problem with such confidence. He is well aware Bayside has become a legit city power. Just by scanning the website recently, he realized they are 35-4-1 over the last few regular seasons. Still, he’d like that intensity at all times.
“I want them thinking it,” the coach said of a championship. “I just want them to know they have to work for it.”