By HockomockSports.com Staff
Player are listed alphabetically
2021 Hockomock Boys Soccer Players to Watch
Matt Angelini, Senior – Foxboro
There aren’t many strikers in the league with the amount of varsity experience that Foxboro senior Matt Angelini has. A four-year member of the Warriors’ varsity team, Angelini has improved each and every season and could be poised for a breakout year in 2021. He bagged a pair of goals as a sophomore and then was Foxboro’s leading scorer during last year’s abbreviated season with six goals, which was tied for the fourth-most during the regular season. He is very dangerous inside the box and has a knack for finding a loose ball or a rebound but he can also play with the ball at his feet; he’ll make defenses pay when given space outside the area.
Caleb Cassetta, Senior – King Philip
King Philip lost a very large senior class to graduation but head coach Mike O’Neill has some veteran players to lean on, including three-year player Caleb Cassetta. Cassetta is a true box-to-box midfielder and we’ve seen over the course of the past two seasons just how skilled he is with the ball on his feet. He can help translate defense to offense and is a calming presence on the ball. When King Philip is looking to build its offense, it’s likely going to come through Cassetta at some point. Whether it’s just keeping possession, hitting the through ball in the final third, or having a go from distance, expect him to be the engine for the Warriors this season.
Matt Hyland, Senior – Mansfield
It could be a pretty big year for Mansfield senior Matty Hyland, both on the pitch this fall and on the court during the winter. Head coach Steve Sheridan said the midfield unit is the backbone of the team this year and Hyland is a big reason for that. He’s not only a great option in the air, which fits really nice in the Hornets’ attack plans, but he’s very smart with the ball at his feet. He will be tasked with pulling the strings in the central midfield. He showed last year the ability to link the defense with the offense. He can also drop back and be a key piece of the defense while smoothing the transition and solidifying the middle. We’ve seen it in the past and it’s bound to happen again this season: Hyland can be= lethal from distance. If defenses decide to sit back and give him space, he has no problem putting one on target from distance.
Terry O’Neill, Senior – Franklin
There isn’t much to say about Franklin senior Terry O’Neill that we haven’t already said sometime over the past two seasons, but that won’t stop us from doing so again here. A truly versatile player, O’Neill can play just about anywhere on the pitch, playing mostly in a holding mid spot as a sophomore and then dropping deeper to solidify the defense last season. One thing we’re looking forward to this season is the return of heading the ball. The players did a nice job adjusting to the rules modified by COVID, but heading is such a key aspect of the game and it’s certainly a big part of O’Neill’s game. He does a nice job really standing out in his box against set pieces, and on the other end of the pitch, he’s the one setting the offense up whether it’s with a cross, a set piece service, or a shot on a free kick.
Riley Rebello, Junior – Taunton
Taunton had its already abbreviated season cut short last fall, only getting four games in early on in the season. That means there weren’t many players that were able to gain valuable experience, getting used to the speed of the varsity level. Junior Riley Rebello already had a full season under his belt, playing nearly every minute as a freshman. That will be huge for head coach Taylor Whitters and her Tigers this season because they have a very young roster. Whether it’s at center back — where he played the majority of his freshman year — or further up the pitch, which is what we saw more of recently, Rebello will be a key cog in the middle of the pitch. His versatility will be important too as he can step up front and score (like we saw in the season opener against Stoughton) and if the Tigers need to pack it in or park the bus to protect a lead, they have Rebello’s height and skill to rely on.
Giovanni Ruggeri, Senior – Canton
Canton could be poised for a big year with a strong core of players, including a pretty talented senior class that top goal scorers Jacob Crugnale and Erik Valdovinos plus the calming veteran presence of Dylan Baird. But if there’s one thing in common that recent division champs of the Davenport division have in common, they are among the top defensive units in the league. Canton has a strong core back there which is anchored by senior goalie Giovanni Ruggeri, who is entering his second year as the starter in net but has two years of experience after getting good minutes as a sophomore. We saw a big jump last year as Ruggeri played with a lot of confidence and came up with some big saves for his squad. Now a senior, Ruggeri will be one of the top keepers in the league and he does a nice job controlling his area. That will be key as opposing teams try to break the Bulldogs down and use set pieces to attack the back four.
Mathias Taylor, Senior – Oliver Ames
There was a lot of spotlight on the Class of 2020 for Oliver Ames, and for good reason as that group led the program to back-to-back division titles, one in the Kelley-Rex and last year in the Davenport division. Losing over a dozen players is always tough, especially when they made up nearly the entire starting lineup. But one key piece to the puzzle is back for the Tigers in senior captain Mathias Taylor, who has two years of varsity experience under his belt and is hoping to lead a young and inexperienced group back atop the division. Taylor is very skilled with the ball at his feet and moves the ball well, he seems to always find space to be an option for teammates. He played striker for a lot of minutes last year so he can certainly get up field and be a threat in the final third, whether it’s with a shot or getting on the end of a service.
Chris Tocci, Senior – Milford
Milford has had some of the most gifted offensive players over the past couple of seasons from Hock MVP Walisson de Oliveira two seasons ago, Pedro Araujo in 2019 during the run to the state final, and most recently All-American selection Leo Coelho. But the Hawks have had some pretty good defenders during that span as well and senior Chris Tocci has been one of them. Now in his third year starting at center back, Tocci has gotten better each and every season. After being a big reason that the Hornets allowed just six goals last season (in 13 games), Tocci is back to anchor this year’s defense which looks to be a strong point for the Hawks. Tocci is like a quarterback in the defensive third, helping the backline keep its shape. He is strong in the air as well, often being the one to come up with a big clearance on corners or set pieces.
Alex Vecchioli, Sophomore – Attleboro
Attleboro sophomore Alex Vecchioli had a breakout season in his first year of high school, emerging as one of the most reliable options for the Bombardiers, patrolling the center of the pitch. His strong freshman season saw him lead the Bombardiers in goals scored. He’s a very confident player and very strong with the ball at his feet. Not only can he find teammates with nice through passes or balls over the top, but he can also go at defenders one-on-one and beat them. He showed off a strong shot last year and will be a dangerous option on set pieces for Attleboro again this season. Defenses will be keying in on him a bit more, so it will be interesting to see how he does against the added pressure.
James Zhang, Senior – Sharon
Anyone who saw Sharon play a year ago knows just how important James Zhang was for the Eagles. Now a senior, Zhang patrolled the middle of the pitch for the Eagles a season ago, helping them transition from defense to offense and had some nice takes on goal from distance. Zhang can play anywhere up the middle, as he’s just as comfortable sitting back as a part of the defense as he is getting the ball at his feet and attacking opposing defenses. Zhang’s versatility is what really makes him stand out among his peers. If the Eagles need a goal, expect Zhang to be a top candidate to come up with the key play. Opposing defenses aren’t going to want to give him much space, especially in the attacking third. Expect Zhang to be an on-field leader this season for the Eagles.