By John Orrell, Contributing Writer
Northborough – With league championships won in 11 of the last 12 seasons and district championships in three of the last six, no one is about to tinker with tradition that might alter the future course of events.
That tradition is glaringly apparent and often evokes a double-take for anyone on scene at the Algonquin Regional High athletic fields, particularly when focused in on the boys’ varsity soccer team. Seventeen-year head coach Ken Morin explains it best.
“It’s a long-time tradition that’s been going on here for about seventeen years. When the team qualifies for the district tournament, they dye their hair blond. This year everybody joined in. Some years, there’s a few that don’t.”
It will take more than unity of hair color for this team to advance deeply in post-season play. Players and coaches are well aware of that and the fact that competition in the central Mass. region is daunting at best with a host of teams anxious to accomplish the same championship goals. This 2015 team has forged its own identity with an approach that has been successful leading to the squad’s 9-2-5 record heading into the last week in October, but challenging times lie ahead.
“We’re at least used to competing for a league championship,” said Morin, who is assisted by Brian Doherty, Jim Callahan, Mike Pini and Corey Morin.
“Every year’s a different story. Last year, we had two leading scorers in the league in central Mass (seniors Tyler Morin and Dominic Cianci) and that was great. But when 52 goals walk out the door, you have to find another way to go about it. This year, we’ve been better defensively. We’ve had many more shutouts (seven) than last year and we’re a little different oriented.”
“We have to show strength on the field. During the playoffs, it’s going to get competitive, it’s going to get rowdy,” added senior co-captain and midfielder Max Michaud. “As captains, we have to remind players as to what our goal is and not be distracted. They understand it. Even the newer kids, we continue to remind them of what’s important.”
Team unity has been the prevailing theme this season as it has in the past. Senior co-captains Joe Wallace, Patrick Sullivan and Michaud have stepped up with the necessary leadership that has unified players to the common goal of leaving it all out on the field in the quest for another championship.
“We’ve stuck together all year,” explained Wallace, who is solid in the midfield position. “We’ve had some issues but we’ve revolved around them and I think it’s made us grow as a team and that’s shown on the field. This year everyone’s on the same page as to what we have to do to make another title run. Everyone has to become a leader, not just we three captains, everyone has to assume those roles when they get on the field.”
“The experience that we’ve had in the playoffs allows us feel more comfortable as a team in big games and hopefully come out on top,” added Sullivan, a defender.
Staying healthy is always a challenge and the Tomahawks have had their share of issues in that respect. Morin has been tested in his skill of maximizing the most from his roster and has done well, but he is clearly hoping for an all-hands-on-deck scenario when the tournament begins. It is also clear that he is vocal in his respect for his players who have been deeply committed to the program all season.
“The biggest thing for us is getting everybody back on the field and healthy,” he said. “We’ve had some players in and out all year. We haven’t started our first 11 that we envisioned at the beginning of the year maybe more than a couple of times so getting people back is critical. We need to get healthy and prepared for the tournament.”
“We have a lot of kids at this school that are really focused. They want to be good soccer players, they want to be good students. They’re really good in the community. They do all the right things. We get a large number of kids that try out for the squad so it’s very competitive and that makes it easy to coach because we have kids that want to be good, will work hard and go out and do it. It’s a great school to be a coach.”
Besides the captains, the 2015 Algonquin varsity soccer team consists of seniors Matt Burmeister, Daniel Grist, Nolan Kessinger and Evan Carpinella along with juniors Drew Cammarano, Dustin Hartnett, Patrick Neusch, Antonio Montilla, Shawn Sullivan, Luke Farrell, Alex Sena-Leo, Sebastian Royo, Griffin Brown, Nick Casapulla, Cole Maslanka and Nathan Mott.
Sophomores include Jared Bull, Jonathan Hatem, Jack Gingrich, Zack Osetek and David de Carvallio as well as freshman Nathan Rhind.