The weather may say summer, but the calendar says fall and that means it’s soccer time.
The Classical, English, St. Mary’s and Tech boys and girls soccer teams will get their seasons rolling beginning next Tuesday and Wednesday with the opening rounds of the annual Lynn City Soccer Tournament at Manning Field.
The boys take center stage Tuesday with Classical playing English at 5 p.m. and St. Mary’s playing Lynn Tech at 7 p.m. Wednesday is Ladies Night Out with English and Classical going at it at 5 p.m. and St. Mary’s-Tech playing at 7 p.m. The consolation and championship games will be played on Saturday.
The Rams swept the tournament last year with the girls defeating English, 3-1, and the boys topping Tech, 2-0. The Classical boys reached the final with a win over St. Mary’s in the first round. The Spartans didn’t lose again until the Division 4 North final when they fell to Manchester in penalty kicks.
“The Lynn tournament is a fun way to start off the year,” Classical boys coach Rob Upton said. “You go through those first couple of weeks of tough tryouts, preparing for the season, and you immediately go into this highly competitive situation. Everybody is bringing their best to this tournament. Everyone wants bragging rights.”
The Rams lost 12 players to graduation including Karegeya Nasibu, an Eastern Mass All-Star who had 11 goals. Upton is looking to recoup some of that scoring power from junior captain Issa Jalloh. His other two captains are defenders Simon Kazimierczyk and John Gathua.
The Classical girls, who also toppled perennial tournament champion St. Mary’s in the first round, lost two of its top players, Jenn Ierardi and Taylor Ferarro, to graduation. With 47 girls showing up for tryouts, coach Justina (Alicudo) Gaeta (she married Chris Gaeta in June) is optimistic the Rams will find their way back into the tournament after not qualifying last year. She’ll be counting on this year’s senior captains, Shannon Magner, Briana Silva, Ally Dunnigan and Madison Angelli to get the job done. Seniors Kaitlin Marcinko and Rachel Jordan should also help the cause.
“Last year we came out really strong but fell off towards the middle of the season. Hopefully we can keep it more consistent this year,” Gaeta said.
The St. Mary’s boys will have some work to do to improve on last year when they won the Catholic Central League title and went to the Division 4 North final. Coach Mike D’Agostino will have some holes to fill with the graduation of key players like Cristian Chavez, Noah Camelo and Patrick Morin Plante, who are now playing at Franklin Pierce University, Colby-Sawyer and Salem State, respectively.
Despite the hit, D’Agostino said this year’s team is looking very good in the preseason with captains Kevin Kevin Esper and Daniel Montoya giving the Spartans a good foundation. Center-midfielder Esper is a two-time league all star and midfielder Montoya is also looking tough to stop as is Daniel Hennessey.
St. Mary’s girls coach Jim Foley saw his team return to the state tournament last year after a one-year absence. The Spartans, who finished 11-7-2, return some serious firepower with senior forward/midfielder Taylor Capozzi (21 goals, 10 assists) and senior captain Kaylin Deschenes (16 goals, 10 assists). Senior sweeper Katie Terban will shore up the defense and sophomore Mia Nikolakopoulos (5 goals) will patrol center-midfield.
Both the Tech boys and girls will be adjusting to new coaches. Jeremy McKeen moved from coaching the girls to coaching the boys after boys coach Fred Gallo was named a vice principal. McKeen is expecting his team to be strong defensively and in the midfield and he’s optimistic the new crop of talent includes some guys with a nose for the net. The Tigers did not qualify for the tournament last year.
McKeen is looking for big things from senior midfielder Domenic Turilli, senior defender and captain Heckor Valdivieso, senior defender Fabian Beneviedes, midfielder Santiago Zuluago and goalie Isaac Perez.
The Tech girls under new coach Kim Keighley (and assistants Ashley Keighley and Roxanna Diaz) will enjoy the benefit of an experienced goalie with the return of Coral Gonzalez. Also back in the fold are midfielder Belinda Miranda, sweeper Priscila Imul, midfield/forward Lila Nieves, and midfielders Norbelia Juarez and Brenda Vargas.
The English girls will be playing with a heavy heart this season following the sudden death this week of one of their former teammates, Ashley Frawley. Coach Ed McNeil said the team has dedicated its season to Frawley.
The Bulldogs return leading score Emma Trahant along with captains Kaitlin Nadeau, Haylee Denham and McKenzie O’Hare. Nadeau has started in net the last three years and is a Northeastern Conference All-Star. English will look to improve on last season’s 5-13-2 record.
The English boys, under coach Kerry King, will be looking to improve on last season. The Bulldogs did not qualify for the tournament last year.