Boys Soccer: Ten Players to Watch in 2017

Hockomock Boys Soccer Players to Watch
Attleboro senior goalie Nick Hasenfus is one of the players to watch this season. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

Player are listed alphabetically

Nathaniel Cardoza, Senior – Oliver Ames

This isn’t the first time that Cardoza has been on this list. He’s just one of two players to be on the list last year and again this season. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise either if you’ve seen him play at all. His ability to be a constant presence on the defensive side and then quickly transition and get involved in the offense is what separates him apart from the rest. His soccer IQ is very high and on display when he has the ball at his feet. Whether it’s threading the needle with through balls or deciding to take a chance on goal himself, he always seems to make the right play.

Nick Hasenfus, Senior – Attleboro

Attleboro’s goalkeeper had a breakout season during 2016 and earned HockomockSports.com Best XI honors in his first year as a starter. He had nine shutouts and just 21 goals against in 20 games. His ability to control the entire area makes him an elite keeper, controlling crosses or services into the area very well. He showed his ability to react quickly as well, constantly getting at least a hand on shots on target. The biggest challenge this season for Hasenfus will be the change of central defenders after the Bombardiers graduated both Harry Lancaster and Tyler Treichler from its back line.

Nick Hyland & Sam Hyland, Seniors – Mansfield

The Hornets graduated a couple of key pieces to a team that challenged for the Kelley-Rex title and made the state tournament again last season. But two players back that will play important roles for Mansfield are twin brothers Nick and Sam Hyland. Nick had a strong season defensively last year but will be counted on more with the departure of Max Gurnon. His size gives him an advantage defending set pieces and crosses into the area and can also play out of the back with his feet. Sam really emerged as a top option in the center of the pitch last season. He is calm with the ball at his feet which allows him to pick out teammates going forward, or even back to help the Hornets keep possession.

Ethan Kantor, Junior – Sharon

Kantor had a tremendous sophomore season and was a big reason why Sharon was able to clinch its first league title since 1994. He routinely made tough saves, and often times made the tough stops look easy. He’s quick off his line, which allows Sharon’s back line to relax a little knowing he will be there to clean anything dropped in behind them. Now as a junior, look for Kantor to take commanding control of the area and really handle crosses and services with confidence. You have to think that with the more experience that Kantor gets, the better goalie he will become.

Tyler Mann, Senior – King Philip

Anyone who saw King Philip play a year ago knows just how important Mann was for the Kelley-Rex division champs. Mann is just one of two players to make this list for a second year, joining Oliver Ames’ Nathaniel Cardoza. Mann’s versatility is what really makes him stand out among his peers. If the Warriors need a goal, expect Mann to take up a higher role and make an impact, especially in one on one situations. If the Warriors are looking for possession or distribution out of the middle, the 2016 HockomockSports.com Player of the Year can drop back some and be more of a playmaker.

Tyler Melo, Senior – Stoughton

The first word that comes to mind when you think of Melo is skill. He is certainly one of the best players in the league when it comes to having the ball his feet. Whether he needs a simple touch to beat a defender, or maybe one to shield off a defender, Melo is very intelligent with the ball. He isn’t going to be one of the fastest or strongest players in the league, but opposing defenses aren’t going to want to give him much space, especially in the attacking third. Expect Melo to become more of an on-field leader this season for the Black Knights.

Connor Mullins, Senior – King Philip

It’s safe to say Mullins was one of the biggest surprises during the 2016 season. While he played plenty of minutes during his sophomore season, it wasn’t until last year that Mullins really became a consistent playmaker for the Warriors. Patrolling the center of the pitch, his ability to win the ball and hold off defenders boils down to his strength and IQ. Not many players are able to hold the ball or win the ball in tough challenges like Mullins can. He also showed last year his ability to play through balls and balls over the top to spring the Warriors’ strikers.

Gabe Pinhancos, Senior – North Attleboro

Pinhancos is one of the most technically gifted players in the league. From his center midfield position, he is a true field general that helps the Rocketeers transition from defense to offense. He can also get forward and be an impactful striker for Big Red (five goals and three assists in 2016). Last year, because of his service ability and high soccer IQ, he was responsible for all of North Attleboro’s set pieces and corner kicks. His ability to put the ball into dangerous spots will certainly result in scoring chances for the Rocketeers this season.

Cam Vella, Senior – Oliver Ames

Two seasons ago when Oliver Ames won its first state title, the Tigers had a handful of players from the Class of 2018 play a vital role. Cam Vella is one of those seniors that had a big hand as a sophomore. Now the Tigers will be looking to make it back to that point with those sophomores now leading the way as seniors. Vella’s aerial ability is a huge plus for the Tigers, especially winning 50/50 balls in the midfield. He also can play with the ball at his feet, taking possession and quickly turning into offense. And his size also makes him a target inside the area on set pieces and corner kicks.

Jake Verille, Senior – Canton

Verille is definitely one of the most experienced players in the Hockomock League this season. Playing in the middle of the pitch, Verille’s play often dictates how Canton will play. While he can drop back and defend, he can also carry possession forward and spring teammates in behind opposing defenses. And the more that he’s played at the varsity level, the more dangerous he’s become in the final third. While he wasn’t Canton’s leading scorer a year ago, his decision making often leads to good chances for the Bulldogs.

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