The Friends School boys soccer program has brought in three high-profile coaches to help an already competitive team reach the top of the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference this season.
The biggest name, former D.C. United and U.S. Under-17 National team star Santino Quaranta, will assist another ex-player with a pedigree, Dulaney alum Sean Rush, the Quakers head coach and seven-year veteran of professional soccer in Italy and Portugal.
The third member of the group, British native Phil Greatwich, is an alumnus of both the Philippine national and Towson University teams. Moreover, Rush is the president and founder of the Pipeline Soccer Club and Highlandtown native Quaranta its vice president, an organization boasting 600 players from ages, 7-19, on 42 teams, that rented field space from Friends through the school's athletic director Greg Whitley.
That's how the connection with the school came into play and how the new coaches ended up with their new gig.
Quaranta, the eighth overall pick in the 2001 Major League Soccer draft who played 11 years in the league, and Rush have known each other since they were tykes playing for age-group Baltimore Football Club sides.
They also have a Friends connection with Calvert Hall/TU grad Nick Gill, who runs the up-and-coming girls program for the Quakers.
"Greg and Nick reached out to us," said Rush, a member of back-to-back Class 4A state finalists at Dulaney before heading to the European professional ranks.
If it seems like an odd fit, it might be because Friends is not generally regarded as an athletic powerhouse.
Yet Quaranta, who prepped at Archbishop Curley for two years before attending the IMG Soccer Academy. in Bradenton, Fla., said the benefits from having "smart kids and a great facility" outweigh any other issues.
He also said he is "extremely excited about the potential of the group (of players)."
Rush said the coaches will teach a high level of "proper soccer, keeping the ball on the ground.
"I'm not a big fan of 'kick and run' soccer that a lot of teams play," he added. "Our 8-year-old (club team) girls can do it, so high school boys should be able to do it as well."
Rush said that freshman striker Nick Krywucki "will score a lot of goals for us" in a season that begins with a scrimmage against Towson High on Aug. 21.