The New York Yankees had its "Core Four." So, too, did Staples soccer coach Dan Woog for the past four years, as it turns out. He knew Brendan Lesch, Frankie Bergonzi, Sean Gallagher and Greg Gudis would be terrific soccer players back when they were freshmen.
"Did I think this was a possibility Yes. But a probability? That's hard to say," Woog said Thursday after the four announced plans to play for Division I college teams next fall. Lesch will attend Notre Dame, Bergonzi will go to Colgate, Gudis to Columbia and Gallagher to the Naval Academy. Gallagher could not attend the news conference because he was running in the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference track championships.
"To have four Division I players is just phenomenal,'' Woog said. "They all went about the process in different ways, but the right way for each of them. In the end, I think they all found the school that was the right fit for them."
The past two years were particularly remarkable for the Wreckers. In 2009, Staples defeated New Milford, 4-0, to win the state championship. Staples rebounded from losses in two of its first three games last fall to return to the Class LL title game , where it dropped a 2-1 decision to Farmington. The final numbers for Wreckers' Core Four includes three league and divisional championships, one state title and one state runner-up.
"I've had the pleasure to play with these guys my whole career, not just at Staples but also growing up through youth soccer,'' Lesch said. "I'm proud that I've been able to play with this group."
The players produced on the field and in the classroom, providing yet another link to one of the state's most decorated soccer programs. It's rare for one player from one team in any sport to advance to play Division I competition. To have four in one year is amazing.
"It's a great tribute to them,'' Woog said. "Hopefully, it will be a good inspiration for the kids coming up."
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