Michael Kelly - From left, Jake Rasmussen, Ben Bellandi, Tucker Wilcox and Anthony Payne stand together prior to Monday’s practice.
Michael Kelly - Broadalbin-Perth soccer coach Brian Henry, center, addresses his team prior to Monday’s practice.
By MICHAEL KELLY
For the Express
BROADALBIN — During Monday’s first practice of the season, the members of the Broadalbin-Perth Patriots boys soccer team made it clear that last year’s Class B state championship is already old news.
“We really don’t think about last year, anymore,” said A.J. Klemczak, a returning senior captain. “We’re just pumped to start this season. Last season doesn’t mean anything anymore.”
“We’re in the moment,” agreed Tucker Wilcox, a rising senior. “We’re not thinking about last year or next year — we’re just thinking about what we’re doing right now.”
The task at hand this season for head coach Brian Henry’s Patriots can be broken down into four goals the team set for itself Monday morning before the first of the day’s two practice sessions. The reigning Class B state champions want to score 100 goals, allow 15 or fewer scores, record 10 shutouts and — oh, yeah — win all five of the titles they did a year ago.
Last season, the Patriots won championships in their home tournament, the Foothills Council regular season, Section II, their region and the state.
“[The goals] are lofty, but it’s achievable,” Henry said.
The coach said the best thing about Monday’s pair of season-opening practices was that last year’s accomplishments — an undefeated season and the school’s first-ever state championship — were not even mentioned by his players.
“These guys, I want to say they have amnesia or something,” said Henry. “It’s great. They’re not talking about last year at all. That’s come and gone, and now they’ve got new goals to focus on.”
While Monday’s practice was the official beginning for the Patriots, the team’s players and coaches had been in near-constant contact for much of the off season.
When asked for the last time he had gone more than a couple of days without seeing at least one of his players, Henry had to think about his answer for several seconds.
“Probably spring break or winter break — maybe,” he said, with a chuckle.
“But I think we can attribute a lot of our success over the past few years to there not being a lot of down time for us,” said Henry. “We’ve become a family.”
After playing together throughout the winter, spring and summer, the Patriots went through player-run practices last week to make sure they were ready for Monday.
The team’s coach said his players had been just that.
“They were buzzing, wide-eyed and ready to go,” said Henry. “Despite the fact we were working all summer, there’s something about this day that is extra special.”
Perhaps the reason for that was that the day’s taboo — last year’s state championship victory — was in the back of each of the players’ mind.
“It was a great thing that happened to us,” said Klemczak, “and now we’ve got to work to get back there again.”