Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Haldane's Jay Marchese Is A Soccer Old Soul Thriving In The Evolving New World Soccer Climate





Two people in particular have helped shape Jay Marchese’s soccer life.

Chris Marchese, an absolute gym rat of an older brother, would be the first.

The second? 

A young coach hell-bent on enforcing a year-round, 24/7 soccer program at tiny Haldane.

Once an afterthought mired in Class C’s middle percentile, the program has grown under head coach Ahmed Dwidar.  

Now a senior center-mid on the Blue Devils, Marchese often thumbs through a saved portfolio of yellowed newspaper clips chronicling Haldane’s 2010 season.
He's also known to gaze at highlights from that memorable season for hours. Marchese was on J.V. at the time. He watched every game with a fervor that only a devout season-ticket holder can appreciate.

 Watching the pivotal plays unfold, hitting the rewind button and viewing it in slow-motion, Marchese relives the moments that helped cement his older brother's legacy at Haldane. 

Just from watching a few clips, Marchese feels the motivation seep into his wiry 5-foot-8, 145-pound frame.

Keyed by Chris Marchese—now a starting midfielder at Mount St. Mary’s College in Newburgh—and then-junior Sean Daly, the Blue Devils escaped relative obscurity with a 2-0 win over favored Solomon Schecter in the Section 1/Class C championship.

Chris, the bullet-quick go-to option, accounted for both goals.
“I think if there was a team to repeat what that (2010) team accomplished, it is this year’s team,” said Marchese, who popped two goals during Haldane’s  thorough 5-0 pelting of Poughkeepsie on Friday.

“I always go back and watch that team’s highlights from Sectionals, from regionals. It just gets me pumped to want to be in the same position they were in. I remember the newpapers were calling Chris and Sean Daly ‘Batman and Robin.’"

The Blue Devils are off to a 4-3 start. A loss to YMA has made practices longer, lungs-burning sprinting more frequent. It's also sparked a new sense of urgency, one that's suddenly spread through the locker room like wildfire.
The offensive pace of Marchese has drawn inevitable comparisons to Chris. 

"As players they are pretty similar," Dwidar said. "They both have a real nose for the net."

 In seven games, Jay Marchese has scored five goals and dealt out six assists. His penchant for erupting during colossal moments has helped bolster his stock.

Marchese's best attribute, however, won’t ever show up on any stat sheet.

“On a coach-ability scale of 1 to 10, he is probably around 10.5 or 11,” said Dwidar of his senior captain.

“He is an absolute workhorse who will do anything you ask of him. You can put him anywhere on the field, he will do it without question. With Jay, there is really no button you have to press. He’s a workaholic and plays the game to win, to improve and to make teams remember they played Haldane. He just works, works, works. He can run through a brick wall, break his nose on a play, and then probably refuse to go to the emergency room because he wants to keep playing.  I mean, he works tirelessly.”

When Dwidar arrived at the doorstep in the summer of 2010, he inherited a 14-player roster. He had just turned 23. His immediate plans were to plant the seeds necessary for a soccer culture to grow and blossom in Cold Spring.

Dwidar recalls his first four weeks at Haldane. He vividly remembers leaving the athletic office one late August morning, fuming over a season preview article. The article said the Blue Devils had potential to ‘compete’ in a league with larger Class A schools including Lakeland.

“We’re here to win,” Dwidar explained. “Compete, contribute, hold your own…I never liked those words. Ever. They never helped. But they weren’t supposed to help, so I’m cool with it.”

The son of famed Egyptian professional coach Talat Dwidar, Ahmed Dwidar has been around the game since he was a two-year-old traipsing the sidelines in Cairo.

When Dwidar needs inspirational, important words to jolt him into focus, he doesn’t need to Google search Emerson or Mark Twain quotes.

“I call my old man,” Dwider says. “He’s been coaching for 20 years and I learned the tricks of the trade from him. He's always there with the words."

Which words best describe Marchese’s game?

Cerebral and tactical.  

The senior plants his feet into the box, levitates above an unsuspecting defender and buries headers. He feeds off the footwork of junior forward Aiden Draper and Sophomore middie Macdara Heaneau, finishing shots within the confines of the box.

“My strong spot is usually getting up on those jump balls and finishing headers,” Marchese explained.
Chris Marchese is faster and a bit more explosive than his younger brother. According to Dwidar, Jay has the advantage as far as overall skill-set.

“Growing up, Chris and I were always playing sports,” Jay Marchese said.

“Since I’m the younger one, I always tried to play physical and keep up with him. Throughout the years, he has helped me as a player. He tells me to always play hard and never give up. He tells me to be a leader. I try to bring all of those things out on the field.”

Chris, as well as his own childhood friends and now varsity teammates,  have always shared Jay’s sheer passion for the game. They've been there every step of the way, ascending to varsity.

"We've been playing together for so long and we all know each other's game so well, it just helps in the long run," said Marchese.

Marchese was quick to add that “having Coach Dwidar as my coach has really pulled me much closer to the game.”

“He really said that?” Dwidar asks. “Wow. That puts a smile on my Egyptian face.”

Nobody is heaping effusive praise on each other just yet. Both player and coach are cognizant that plenty of work needs to be done. The Blue Devils’ gaze has shifted to righting the ship while subsequently balancing the boat.

“We have a lot of talent on this team and we are striving for nothing less than a Sectional title," Jay Marchese said.

Dwidar, known to feed the hype machine every now and then, said the team must sustain its focus.

The team competes in a winter leagues, a summer league, and follows a strict team training regimen throughout the spring.

 In his mind, Dwidar is confident Marchese will find a four-year NCAA career somewhere. He’s made several calls, but wouldn’t divulge anything beyond that.

 He would say, however, that any program which invests four years in Marchese will be getting a workhorse. A workhorse, Dwidar added, who is consumed by his labor of love.

“I can only imagine what Jay’s full high school experience has been like. His friends were hanging out, going to the movies, playing X-box. Doing what teenagers do. Jay was at home, studying game tape, taking notes and watching highlight films. Then the next morning, Chris calls him early to schedule a workout. The kid takes no days off.”