For Steve Jakubowski, the decision to take the boys soccer head coaching job at straight out of college was as easy as it gets.
“I knew coming out of college I definitely wanted to get into coaching and start giving back,” Jakubowski said. “I used to always look up to and admire my coaches throughout my career and I wanted to be that sort of role model for the kids in West Deptford, since the community gave so much.
"Ever since I took the position, I have been nothing but excited and nothing but happy with the results we have been getting with the boys.”
The work began on June 10 with a mini camp and continued with summer workouts, captains practices, summer league games at Shawnee and finally training camp. Jakubowski said all of the workouts made him feel “overjoyous” about his new position.
The West Deptford graduate has implemented a 4-3-3 that features a flat back four as opposed to a diamond, but also said the formation could change depending on the opponent. More important than where everyone lines up each game, he said, is a team concept that he believes can help the team reach new heights.
“I think the biggest thing in high school soccer, and I know it was the case for me, is that a lot of players like to dribble and do a lot of things themselves,” Jakubowski said. “Once they start to mature and really see the field more they see that is normally not the best option. I think the guys are learning it can’t be 1 vs. 11.
"With us it is an entire team effort, top to bottom, and to be able to move the ball up field you have to pass and move the ball. The guys are starting to see the bigger picture now instead of thinking one dimension and just dribbling all the time.”
The Eagles have plenty of new faces on varsity this year after a large turnover from a year. Leading goal scorer Kyle Redrow, reliable midfielder Tim Krott and rock-solid goaltender Kevin Brockway are gone, among others.
Jakubowski doesn’t expect that production to be made up for by two or three players; instead, he expects everyone to have a play a role.
“I think the best part of our team is the fact we are a team,” he said. “There is no standout star who will be a 40-goal scorer, which is fine. We are going to win by committee this year. We have enough guys with plenty of talent, but the biggest thing is they all have heart. They all know the guy next to them has just as much, if not more heart."
Haddonfield remains West Deptford’s chief rival, a scenario Jakubowski is plenty familiar with after his playing days. The Bulldawgs swept the Eagles last year and have won the division the last two seasons. The two teams are set to meet Monday at Scout field at 3:45 p.m. in a game that could set the tone for the rest of the season.
“I think the biggest thing is you just have to be tough and resilient,” Jakubowski said, referencing his playing days. “Haddonfield has their own style of playing, particularily at home, and we just can’t play their game.
"If we can do the things we worked so well on during the preseason I think we will be more than all right. We need to play a full 80 minutes with no letdown. It will take an entire team effort, which I think we will be able to put out there.”
Below is a look at the 2012 West Deptford boys’ soccer team.
Coach: Steve Jakubowski
Last year: 12-5-2.
Returnees: Hunter Holmstrom, Dan Devine, Evan Fahey, Joe Mingrino, Lewis Hunter, Kevin Keane.
Newcomers: Josh Jones, Brendan Gill, Jim Wicker, Pete Tachdjian, Zach Kaestner, Luke McKeown, RJ Eckley, Seamus Burkett, Dustin Zuzulock.
Team to beat: Haddonfield, Haddon Heights.
Outlook: Redrow and Brockway will not be replaced overnight, but Jakubowski believes the overall team aspect of this squad will be strong enough to have the Eagles competing for a Liberty Division title.
Three storylines to follow:
–Who will emerge in net. Brockway was a fixture in net the past three seasons and will be tough to replace. The Eagles currently have two candidates, in Jones and Gill, who have proved worthy of serious consideration. Jones got the nod in the opener, but Gill is also likely to see time. Jakubowski is likely to settle on one of the other before the season gets too far along, but he said the team has confidence in whoever serves as the last line of defense.
“They both give us a different dynamic,” he said. “Whoever is playing at that time, the whole team is behind them 100 percent. We know that whoever is in net will be able to come up big whenever we need them too.”
–A breakout season for Evan Fahey. Although he didn’t pile up goals as a junior, Fahey was one of the most consistent players on the Eagles’ roster. Now a senior, and captain, Fahey has positioned himself for a big season, according to Jakubowski. Look for Fahey—along with fellow senior captain Joey Mingrino—to be in on a lot of goal this season, whether it be setting them up, or sending them home.
–Zach Kaestner in the midfield. Kaestner, a senior, wasted no time showing off his playmaking abilities, scoring two goals in West Deptford’s 3-1 win against Overbrook Thursday. Kaestner possess great ball control and his smart decision making makes him a perfect choice for a holding midfielder in Jakubowski’s system. Look for Kaestner to be at the center of everything the Eagles try to do this season.