Boys Soccer: 2017 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

2017 Kelley-Rex Boys Soccer Preview
Oliver Ames’ Cam Vella (left) and King Philip’s Mike Rowe are back for their senior seasons. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2017 Kelley-Rex Boys Soccer Preview

Attleboro

2016 Record: 8-6-6
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Peter Pereira

Even though Attleboro graduated some key pieces, the Bombardiers have a lot of experienced and talented players back for the 2017 season. The biggest challenge will be replacing center backs Harry Lancaster (Best XI selection) and Tyler Treichler (Second XI selection) in the heart of the defense.

Juniors Colin Levis and Aidan Lancaster are both back on the defensive line after gaining plenty of experience a season ago. They’ll look to work with Brandon Lewis and Connor Dunn to solidify the back four in front senior goalie Nick Hasenfus (2016 Best XI selection). In the midfield, Zach White is back and will be relied upon as one of the team’s top playmakers once healthy. He’ll have the help of Brady Holander, Nathan LaPlume, Devin Andre, Eli Araujo and Keith Thompson.

After breaking out as one of the league’s bright young stars a season ago, Will Halben is back to lead the attack alongside sophomores Mike Russo and David Medeiros.

“We are hoping to do a bit better than last year with a bit more depth,” said Attleboro head coach Peter Pereira.

Franklin

2016 Record: 6-9-3
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Fran Bositis

It looks like there is a chance of growing pains in the forecast for the 2017 Panthers. After graduating over a dozen seniors from last year’s team, there will be some inexperience in the lineup for Fran Bositis.

Senior Freddie Beckmann returns as the team’s starting goalie to give the defensive end some familiarity, but it will be a brand new back four in front of him. Sophomore Sam Stowell saw some minutes a year ago and will anchor the defense alongside senior Andrew DiLeo. Senior Connor O’Rourke, who also played some last year, will man the outside along with junior Sam Malloy.

In the midfield, Nitin Chaudhury will take over as the holding mid in the center of the pitch but could also move around depending on need. He’ll have the help of sophomores Jacob Cummings and Donny Tappin. Up front, there are mainutes up for grabs with junior Tim Duval in the running to likely grab one of the spots.

“We’re going to be young and inexperienced,” Bositis said. “We have a handful of seniors back but a youth movement is happening. But overall, the kids are really working hard and have great attitudes. We’re looking for improvement each day.”

King Philip

2016 Record: 17-2-2 (Kelley-Rex Division Champion)
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Semifinal
Coach: Nick Gale

It will be hard to top the historic season the Warriors had a year ago, winning the division title and allowing just eight goals all season. But Nick Gale and his squad are focused on 2017, not last Fall.

Even though 2016 Best XI selections Cam Mullin and Colby Koch, and Second XI selections Ryan Coulter and Eli O’Neill all graduated, the Warriors still return some of the top talent in the league this year. Tyler Mann, the 2016 HockomockSports.com Player of the Year, is just one of many talented players back for Gale. Senior Connor Mullins will be a key piece in the midfield, senior Larsen Keys started all of last year on the back line and senior Mike Rowe is a dangerous player inside the 18. Thomas Lugten, Anthony Bozza and Zac White are all back as well after playing plenty of minutes last year.

Junior Nick Beltramini and sophomore Tristan Stephani are battling for minutes in goal.

“Our focus continues to be on developing players and improving our team,” Gale said. “We understand that opposing teams will be after us, but we won’t take our attention away from training, competing, and focusing on the smaller details that will help us continue to move forward. The league will be good, and we know we will need to be as well.

Mansfield

2016 Record: 11-5-3
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Steve Sheridan

Mansfield will be relying on a mix of experience and new faces in an effort to get back to the postseason for another year. The Hornets have the challenge of trying to fill the shoes of two-time Best XI selection Max Gurnon, and as well as the void left by the injury to Ethan Brill-Cass, a two year varsity starter.

However, with Sean Lanzillo, Nick Hyland, Sam Hyland and Harry Braidt back, the Hornets have a solid core to work on. Lanzillo’s speed makes him one of the toughest marks in the league while Sam Hyland emerged as a top midfielder last season. Nick Hyland and Braidt will be back to anchor the back line. Head coach Steve Sheridan expects junior Sam Nugent to step in and make an impact early on defensively, as well as junior midfield Luke Savoie on the offensive end.

Senior Nick Ferraz is battling with sophomore Anthony Salisbury for the starting position in net.

“I’m hoping some of the younger guys can step up on offense, and with the departure of Max along with the injury to Ethan and graduation of Jed in goal, our defense is going to have some new faces,” said Mansfield head coach Steve Sheridan.

Oliver Ames

2016 Record: 10-5-3
2016 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinal
Coach: John Barata

Oliver Ames returns plenty of talent and will be looking to challenge King Philip for supremacy in the Kelley-Rex division. Two-time HockomockSports.com Best XI selection Nathaniel Cardoza is back to anchor the Tigers from the middle of the field. His ability to play defense, as well as get forward, gives OA a boost.

Other returning starters back this year include Matt Campbell, Matt Alvarado, Cam Vella, Mason Galbato and Jack Sheldon. Mike Braga and Chris Lawrence bring experience to the back line in front keeper Jack Carroll, who is in his third year in net.

With the graduation of three-year starter Thomas McCormick, the Tigers have a void to fill at the striker position. Senior James Gillespie saw time last year off the bench and proved a capable option up top while Alvarado also showed his ability to finish. Senior Brandin Osborne transferred in from Coyle and will also be an attacking option for OA. Nick Bloumbas, Sean Flaherty and Niko Byron will all likely see time off this season as well.

“We are looking to build a solid team that will play well in a very competitive environment,” OA head coach John Barata said. “We know that to succeed we will need to play our best soccer everyday. The boys are working hard – we need to turn our effort into results. I feel confident that we will find our way and make an effort to qualify for the MIAA State tourney.”

Taunton

2016 Record: 1-16-2
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Taylor Whitters

Taunton brings back eight starters from last year’s team and head coach Taylor Whitters is hoping that experience will translate into an improved season in 2017. On top of of those eight starters, the Tigers will have Marc deSousa back in net after a missing his junior season battling cancer.

Senior Liam Crowley is back again with more experience to anchor the back line along with junior Kyle Aubin. DaeShawn Duffie and Hasan Farahat both return to give the Tigers a solid duo in the middle of the pitch while junior Liam Crowley also adds experience to the midfield. Jake DeAndrade, Brett Beaulieu and Alec Nunes are also back in the mix this year as well.

The Tigers got a boost from their rival as Ian Soderbom traded his Warrior blue and gold in from Coyle for Tiger black and orange. Soderbom will be a key piece on defense while Francois Hennaux, an exchange student from Belgium, will add depth to Taunton’s offense.

“Our team is already looking stronger and better,” said Whitters. “They say the tougher the set back the stronger the comeback. We are going to be one of those teams.”

Oliver Ames Captures First Ever State Championship

Oliver Ames captains Max Bamford, Chris Romero, Keegan Nutt and head coach John Barata with the D2 State Championship. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)
Oliver Ames captains Max Bamford, Chris Romero, Keegan Nutt and head coach John Barata with the D2 State Championship. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Click here to purchase photos from OA’s celebration.
By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

LYNN, Mass. – When last year’s Div. 2 state title game ended, Oliver Ames players grabbed the runner-up trophy and raised it high in celebration of reaching the program’s first ever championship game.
When OA took the pitch on Saturday morning at Manning Field for this year’s state title game against Masconomet, the Tigers were not going to be happy settling for second place again.
The experience of last season paid dividends. OA bounced back from an early Masco goal to defeat the Chieftains 3-1 on three well-executed set pieces and clinched the program’s first state championship.
“Since we came here once, we knew how to play this game,” said OA coach John Barata. “It’s different; it’s a one-game season against a top team from the North.
“It’s a great feeling to win because it would’ve been horrible to come back-to-back years and lose again. The guys worked hard and they deserved it. We earned that win.”
Masco jumped into the lead in the 12th minute. A long throw from Alex Spaulding reached Josh Polakiewicz on the corner of the six-yard box and he flicked a header up over OA keeper Jack Carroll.
OA had lost the momentum after a decent start, but the Tigers utilized the experience of two straight runs to the South title and stayed in the game.
Senior Chris Romero equalized in the 19th minute when the Tigers were awarded a free kick just outside the box. It may have been a harsh call, but Romero did not mind as he curled his 20-yard shot past the despairing dive of Steven Heitzelman.
“They had all the momentum,” said Romero, “and we really needed the quick goal to get the momentum back, so I think it helped us pushing forward.”
Just five minutes later OA took the lead. Romero played an in-swinging corner kick that Heitzelman failed to hold. The ball dropped to the foot of sophomore Nathaniel Cardoza, who was in the right place at the right time to tap it in.
Cardoza also had the winning goal in overtime to win the South title for the Tigers. Barata said of the midfielder, “He is a very good player, diligent player. He’s a DI school’s dream and he’s only a sophomore. I’m very lucky to have him.”
Masco coach Jared Scarpaci noted, “The first [set piece], you don’t get a better free kick than that and you just tip your hat. The second one, I think we could have done a little bit better on that and that’s really when the momentum shifted.”
The Chieftains, who won the title in 2013 and have reached the state title game in three of the past four seasons (the last two in Div. 2), had their chances to equalize before the break. Shane Collins could not take advantage off of a poor clearance by Carroll to score into an empty net and then he set up Bryan Gilbert, who scuffed a shot while all alone in the box.
“They missed a couple of sitters that could have changed the game,” said Barata. “That’s the way soccer goes; I’ll take it.”
Carroll also came through with a big save to deny Blaise Romanowski in the final five minutes of the half, tipping over the Masco striker’s close-range effort off a free kick.
Seven minutes after the break, Romero showed his defensive prowess by heading out a Andrew Musiak corner underneath his own crossbar.
Barata explained, “You can see why he’s an all-state player. He starts on the left wing, scores a beautiful goal, he plays forward, and then we move him to the back and he was excellent at the back.”
In the 57th minute, OA sealed the title with another set piece that was straight off the training ground. Instead of playing an angled free kick into the box, Romero played the ball straight into the path of Matt Alvarado and the sophomore sent an inch-perfect cross into the box to a wide open Thomas McCormick, who nodded home the Tigers’ third.
“You couldn’t ask for anything better,” said Romero. “Alvarado down the line and crosses it for Thomas to head it in…perfect play.”
Barata credited the week of between games for allowing his team to work on set pieces and, as he explained, it “paid off” of Saturday.
“It worked like a charm today,” he said about the routine for the third goal. “We’ve done that a number of times and it’s gone over the bar, off the bar, off a defender, but today it was destined.”
Romero and the rest of his teammates charged towards the traveling OA fans at the final whistle, celebrating the first state title with friends and family. The Tigers reached their first sectional title in 2013, won the South for the first time last year, and now have won the state championship.
It has been a long and successful career for the OA captain and, when asked how it felt to get to this level, Romero responded succinctly, “It’s pretty awesome. It’s awesome to be a state champ.”
Click here to purchase photos from OA’s celebration. 
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.