Monday, September 28, 2015

Dwidar To Sustain Championship Aspirations At Haldane

These past few years have gone been in blink-quick fashion for Ahmed Dwidar, Haldane's young head soccer coach.

He stumbled upon quick-hit success his debut season, despite minimal expectations.

When he arrived at the doorstep in the fall of 2009, the team sorely lacked experience and veteran leadership and structure.

The then 23-year-old coach overcame a jarringly thin bench, an even thinner budget, and a schedule that included schools twice Haldane's size and with three times the talent pool.

Spearheaded by striker Chris Marchese and Sean Daly, a formidable tandem, Haldane captured the Section 1/Class C championship. Few saw it coming.

Since then, Dwidar has moved at a furious pace to establish a soccer culture at Haldane. He's ramped up with the unrequired work, entering the team in leagues and tournaments throughout the winter and spring.

The Blue Devils will miss senior netminder Peter Hoffman, who was claimed by 2015 graduation.

 They return enough talent to sustain recent success. If the key pieces can seize tbe veteran leadership reigns, as Dwidar envisions,  he's got lofty aspirations to again compete for a Sectional championship.

The team will lean on a veteran presence in Danny Heitman.

"Plain and simple, Danny is just a special player," said Dwidar.

"There are no buttons you need to press to motivate a kid like Danny. He wants it as bad as he wants to breathe. He wants success. He wants to leave his mark here and go out with a bang. He's going to have to lead the team, just like the Marcheses, the Drapers, and the Hoffmans before him."

Dwidar is particular impressed with Heitmann's hustle and cerebral awareness on the pitch. His potency is also in his free kicks, which tend to "break the net" as Dwidar deadpanned.

For the first time since his rookie season, Dwidar will work more on potential than proven athletes.

The team has been negated by a spate of injuries, which has allowed this year's team to progress a bit slower.

"The focus is to get healthy, to get our guys to bounce back from injury, and to work cohesively and get better on a day-to-day basis," Dwidar said.

"It is not easy losing a kid like Peter (Hoffman). He was a leader, he performed everyday. He went above and beyond everything we asked of him. That being said, we have returning talent in Seth Warren and Andrew Platt."

Though several players are seeing their first varsity minutes, Dwidar said the meshing experiment has gone as planned.

Mirroring the growth of the Haldane soccer culture has been the Dwidar bloodline. In Egypt, where soccer is akin to bloodsport, Dwidar's younger brother Odo Dwidar is starring professionally as a striker.

Dwidar's father also coaches on the professional level.

Ahmed Dwidar said soccer has become a way of life for his family. He feels no pressure, only a desire to value the game as much as his father and brother do.

Witnessing their success over the waters has hastened Dwidar's desire to catapult Haldane back into Section I's high-rent district. The goal is to leave his own legacy here in the states, in the tiny and antique store-laced town of Cold Spring.

"There's no question, we've had kids that can play walk through these doors," Dwidar say.

"That's necessary in any soccer program that becomes perennially tough. You want the younger kids to look up to the older guys before them, and pattern their career around them. These kids saw teams that tasted success here. They want to experience it themselves. If we stay focused and continue to get better, we'll have a chance to do that."