By HockomockSports.com Staff
2021 Hockomock League Boys Soccer Preview
2020 Record: 2-5-6
Coach: Peter Pereira
The Bombardiers seemed to get things in gear just as last season was coming to an end, finishing the season unbeaten in its final five games. But there won’t be much carryover to this year as Attleboro only has three starters back from a team that lost 14 seniors to graduation.
It will be a lot of new faces for longtime head coach Peter Pereira, who is still trying to fit the puzzle pieces together to figure out the best combination for his Bombardiers. Senior Cashel Stuger joined the lineup last season and will be a main part of the Attleboro defense this year with Lucas Marques, Ian Miller, and John Blouin all in the mix to see minutes. Junior Esvin Morales begins his third year on the varsity level and has the most experience at this level on the team. Morales is a crafty midfielder that is very dangerous in the attack and on set pieces. Seniors Liam Bischoff and Thomas Russo have good varsity experience and should see expanded roles this year.
Sophomore Alex Vecchioli exploded onto the scene last year, scoring a team-high four goals. He’ll join Morales to solidify the Attleboro midfield but he’s no stranger to getting forward and making some noise in the attack. Sophomores Tyler Rocchio and Brady Whitmarsh are battling for the starting position in goal while Pereira is looking for the likes of Connor Adema, Yannie Skortas, and Emilio Ticas to step up in the attack.
2020 Record: 6-3-3
Coach: Danny Erickson
Canton was the main challenger to OA’s division title win last season, playing tough against the Tigers in both matches. In fact, the Bulldogs’ lone losses were to both division champs in OA and Milford, the latter coming in the semifinal of the Hock Cup.
Canton has a large chunk of those players returning to the pitch for this season and a lot of them have multiple years of experience playing at the varsity level, which means expectations are high for Canton. OA has been the team to beat in the Davenport for the majority of the past decade but it looks like that could be different this year with how much skill the Bulldogs have.
There are veteran players all over the field, starting in the back with the anchor of the defense in senior All-Hockomock selection Giovanni Ruggeri, who returns as the starting goalie. Establishing a strong defensive group in front of Ruggeri will be key but the Bulldogs have a track record of getting better defensively as the season goes on. There is a lot of firepower going forward with senior Dylan Baird being the link in the midfield, helping the Dogs transition from defense to offense. There will be a lot of options in the attacking third with both Erik Valdovinos (three goals, two assists) and Jacob Crugnale up front (goal, seven assists). Junior Jake McCabe is also back after scoring three goals and notching two helpers.
“We are so excited to head into the season,” said head coach Danny Erickson. “Our team has a very high ceiling for success and we are working hard to reach that ceiling. Couldn’t have much more difficult of an early-season schedule playing Franklin, OA, and Milford to open up the Hock so we will certainly be presented some very tall tasks right out of the gates.”
2020 Record: 4-6-2
Coach: Dan Ambrosio
Foxboro is leaning on a strong senior class, a group of talented returners, and a mix of new faces to try and make a run at the Davenport division title. The heart of the team will be with the senior class, including four-year player Derek Axon and midfielder Alex McGarry.
Axon has been on the roster since his freshman year and will start in net for the Warriors, leading the way for what head coach Dan Ambrosio hopes is a strong defensive unit. Foxboro has been on the lower half of the Davenport table in terms of goals against in each of the past two seasons but Ambrosio believes he has a strong defensive unit that will play well in front of Axon. McGarry, a three-year member of the varsity squad, will be a key piece in the middle of the pitch.
It’s not often a team gets a transfer with not only varsity experience, but experience playing in the Hockomock League. But the Warriors added Jorge Sanchez, who has two years of playing at Canton under his belt and could be a big boost for Foxboro. Senior forward Matt Angelini has improved each year with the program and will be one of the top strikers in the league while junior Alex Penders has impressed so far in the preseason. Sophomore John Hollis made a splash during the COVID-shortened 2020 season and could be poised for a breakout year for the Warriors.
“The group has done an outstanding job of coming together as a team,” Ambrosio said. “We look forward to playing the Foxboro way and competing to win the Hockomock regular season.”
2020 Record: 3-5-4
Head Coach: Fran Bositis
Hall of Fame head coach Fran Bositis is back on the sidelines for his 51st season in charge and he and his Panthers are anxious to get back to normal soccer after last year’s abbreviated season that featured rule changes that altered the game.
Bositis has liked what he’s seen so far in the preseason with the team improving after each training session and after each scrimmage. Having a trio of four-year players is an advantage that many teams won’t have so the Panthers will lean heavily on seniors Terry O’Neill, Tyler Powderly, and Aidan Griffith for their veteran leadership. There are a lot of upperclassman on the roster with seniors Jack Moran, Nelson Martinez, and Kevin Proenca all back in the mix after playing last season.
O’Neill, the 2019 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, is the spine of the team, patrolling the middle of the pitch. We saw early on in his career his ability to get forward and become a scoring threat but he also showed he can sit back and solidify the defensive unit. Both Powderly and Griffith provide a lot of speed on the outside. Junior Trey Lovell and sophomore Rex Cinelli earned some minutes a season ago while Bositis expects junior Will Krysak and sophomore Sean O’Leary to be steady contributors this season.
“I feel the outlook is bright as long as we continue to work hard and look to make small improvements every day,” Bositis said. “I also feel that we have very good senior leadership and that this will be important in helping our younger players develop.”
2020 Record: 5-4-4
Coach: Mike O’Neill
The Warriors graduated nearly its entire starting lineup, losing a total of eight players from the starting 11, along with five more seniors from last year’s squad, but somehow KP boasts a strong returning group of players.
That’s a credit to head coach Mike O’Neill, who has shown since he took over the varsity team that he will take full advantage of the depth of his roster, getting a lot of player’s minutes each season. Last year’s abbreviated season was no different; KP has half a dozen players back with varsity experience ready to make a run at the division title.
There are four captains: Caleb Cassetta, John Pfeiffer, Sean McCarthy, and Stephen Griffin, and all four bring something a little different to the table. Cassetta can do a bit of everything, from being the maestro of the midfield, to shoring up the defense, to sliding up front to score goals. Pfeiffer plays both defensively and in the midfield and provides key leadership, McCarthy is an aggressive outside back, and Griffin is a four-year member of varsity that can play in a variety of roles going forward.
Junior Matt Cargo could be poised for a breakout year in the midfield while senior Dan Fifolt is back in the mix to give KP at outside back. Junior Andrew Seropian has had a good preseason so far while sophomores Tommy Lomusico, Will Bowen, and Dermott Amorim are all competing to try and give the Warriors a boost on the offensive end.
“I think there is going to be a lot of parity in the Hock this year,” O’Neill said. “It will be difficult (as always) to win games. We graduated 13 seniors and 8 starters last year. That is a significant loss of experience on the field, but it also provides opportunities for younger players. I am excited to see which players will step into the available roles and have a breakout year.”
2020 Record: 6-4-2
Coach: Steve Sheridan
For years, Mansfield has been known as a defensive team that sets the tone with its physicality, taking advantage of set pieces on the offensive end to win games. Things might be a little different in 2021.
While Mansfield still boasts a strong defensive group, the heart and soul of the team is in the midfield. There is a lot of creativity in the group that features senior captains Matty Hyland and Danny Rowe along with juniors Grady Sullivan and Connor Palinski. The unit has impressed in the preseason, moving the ball around, combining to get up field and attack opposing defenses. Mansfield has traditionally used a lot of subs for its forwards under Sheridan and that looks like it will be the case again this year with senior Liam Anastasia and junior Dan Checkoway both in the mix.
Four-year varsity player Dylan Buchanan will take on a new role this year, making the switch to defense. His speed will make it tough for opponents to get in behind the Hornet back line. Senior Michael Caridi is another returner and he will join Buchanan in the back in front of senior goalie Jack Lasbury-Casey.
“This is the first time in a very long time that I can honestly say that the defense is not the strength of our team, the midfield is!!”
2020 Record: 10-0-3
Coach: Antonio Pinto
The target on Milford’s back this season will be bigger than ever as the Scarlet Hawks enter the season with three straight division titles; last year’s Kelley-Rex crown and two from the Davenport prior to that. While the Hawks are certainly in the hunt to make it four straight, they’ll do so without their best player from the past two seasons.
Last year’s Hockomock League MVP and lone Massachusetts All-American selection Leo Coelho graduated alongside nine other players that helped Milford won the Hockomock Cup last season. That class also included star midfielder Lucas Da Silva and 2019 playoff hero and goalie Leo Oliveira. While it might seem like the cupboard is a bit thin, the Hawks have reloaded with some new talent eager to win a title of their own.
Kevin Gomes has been on varsity since he was a sophomore and has plenty of varsity starts in net under his belt. He came off the bench in the Hockomock Cup and came up huge to help the Hawks take the win. Milford also has veteran centerback Chris Tocci back in the fold; Tocci is not only one of the most experienced backs in the league but he’s one of the most skilled and his prowess in the air is key for the Hawks.
Senior Avi Seri and juniors Arthur Tome and Hulanger Pires all took advantage of their expanded roles last season and will be key in the offense this season.
“We have a good direct style of play,” said head coach Antonio Pinto.
2020 Record: 3-6-3
Coach: Geoff Burgess
It was a good offseason for the Rocketeers, who used their time between seasons to improve their craft. North has developed a reputation for a defense-first-minded program over the past couple of seasons and the Big Red is sticking true to its colors in 2021.
The strength of the team lies in the defense with a lot of experience in the defensive third. Senior captain Brody Rosenberg will slide into a center back role and anchor the defense from there while sophomore Kaden Burns returns to his outside back position after picking up vital experience during last year’s abbreviated season. Senior David Floyd returns in goal this year after posting a 1.50 goals against average last season.
Connor Ward has been making plays in this league for a long time and look for that to continue during his senior season Ward uses his versatility and creativeness to orchestrate the Rocketeer push forward. Sophomore Carson Dameron is another returner in the midfield unit for North Attleboro; look for senior Jaad Ismail and juniors Griffin Rodden and Givany Carney to give North’s offense a boost.
“We have a great mix of experience and talent that will hopefully lead to a successful year,” said North Attleboro head coach Geoff Burgess. “The team really came together this summer at Camp Manitou and they really believe in each other. They really want to work hard to improve each day and are one of the most coachable groups we have ever had. We are all really excited to get back to normal soccer and see what this season holds for us.”
2020 Record: 12-1-0
Coach: John Barata
Oliver Ames spent the majority of the last decade at the top of the mountain in the Hockomock League, winning five Davenport division titles and two Kelley-Rex crowns since the league split. The Tigers are the defending champs in the Davenport and lost just one game (Hock Cup) last year, but this will be the biggest turnover that OA has seen in a long time.
Oliver Ames graduated over a dozen players, including nearly its entire starting lineup of a team that scored a league-best 59 goals and had a league-low five goals against. Not only did the Tigers lose a talented senior class, but a majority of the players were also either two or three-year starters, so there will be a lot of new faces getting playing time at the varsity level for the first time. Senior captain Mathias Taylor is the most experienced player back for the Tigers after getting a lot of time as a sophomore and starting last fall. His versatility will be key as the Tigers carve out roles for the new players; Taylor can control the play from the middle of the pitch, move up front as a dangerous attacking option, or sit back some to help solidify the defense.
Hector Bucio is the other returner starter for the Tigers after earning some minutes after a sophomore, picking up some starts in the process, and will be a big part of the offense for OA. Michael Haikal also saw time on the field during the COVID-shortened season and will see an expanded role this year as one of the team’s captains. With new faces in the mix, OA is focusing on attacking with pace while stressing getting numbers behind the ball to defend against the tough competition in the Hockomock League.
“We are excited to be back playing regular soccer and looking forward to seeing how this very young and inexperienced team gels during the season,” said OA head coach John Barata. “We hope to win a couple games and get these underclassmen a lot of experience.”
2020 Record: 0-10-2
Coach: Jon Grant
It starts with the fundamentals for head coach Jon Grant and his Black Knights: an improved defensive effort to stay in games and better technical play to increase scoring games.
And so far, so good as Grant has seen improvement on both ends of the pitch throughout the preseason. Throughout each of the last two seasons, the Knights have shown glimpses and the goal this season is to string together consistent performances and limit the mistakes to keep Stoughton in the game. Captains Rhuan Carvalho and Joao Marotti, both seniors, give the Knights some experience up top as they battle against a tough Hockomock League schedule. Although Evan Khang and Kyle Grant as just sophomores, they saw a lot of time last season and will bring that experience and talent to Stoughton’s midfield.
Defensively, the Knights will turn to senior captain Owen Roddy to anchor the defense. He will be joined by classmate Val Pierre to try and solidify the Stoughton back line.
“Everyone is excited to be back out on the field and it will make it even sweeter as we add the competition of the season,” said Jon Grant. “This season we are looking to not beat ourselves by limiting our mistakes. This mentality will put us in a good position each game to compete. Combine that with great effort and a positive attitude and we have a pretty good recipe for success.”
2020 Record: 0-3-7
Coach: Taylor Whitters
The Tigers only played four games last fall due to COVID so there wasn’t much of an opportunity to pick up varsity experience for the younger players, which make up most of the roster for the 2021 season. The lineup will feature mostly juniors along with a group of sophomores so Taunton will lean heavily on the few players that have played at this level before.
That starts with juniors Riley Rebello and Joseph Renquinha, who both enter their third season apart of the varsity team. Rebello has seen time just about everywhere for the Tigers, including at center back, attacking mid, and up front at striker. The experience that both he and Renquinha possess will be key as the young Taunton team tackles a difficult schedule. Taunton is also looking for juniors Aidden Fitting, Quincy-Jones Sylvia, Conal Scully, and Jonathan Trinh to step into big roles right away.
Taunton will rely on a strong work ethic to try and put pressure on teams, using team speed to attack opposing defenses. The Tigers have been in a lot of close games — three of the for from last season, and 11 of their games in 2019 were decided by a goal or less. Taunton will be hoping to end up on the other end of those one-goal results this season to try and make a push for the postseason. Sophomores Javonte Fernandes, Delano Costa-Hanlon, and Joshua Letourneau, alongside junior Sete Deletoile, will be in the mix on their first year with the team.
“I am hoping for us to continue to mature this season and raise the bar a little higher each game,” said head coach Taylor Whitters.
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