Dan Hennessey was but a half of soccer away from being an instant, certified St. Mary’s High School sports legend.
The 5-foot, 8-inch senior striker had scored two goals in an MIAA state semifinal 2-0 victory over CCL rival Archbishop Williams and his two goals had his team in possession of a 2-1 lead over Monson in the first half of the state final. All told, the man wearing “the wonderful facemask” (as assistant coach Joe Gill put it at the breakup banquet) because of an injured sinus bone Dan sustained during the regular season, had scored seven goals to that point in the postseason.
Extend the lead or hold on for the victory and the name Dan Hennessey would stand royally alongside St. Mary’s greats Brianna Rudolph for her 31-point performance in the Garden, Brendan O’Neil for his pitching gem in the state baseball final at Holy Cross, quarterback/defensive back Chris Dwyer for his heroics versus Pope John in a 2005 CCL title showdown, Thad Broughton for his 2,000-plus points, and Derek Dana, Tim Fila and Company for pretty much all of the 1987 and 1988 baseball seasons.
But while those all-time St. Mary’s alumni ultimately claimed schoolboys sports’ biggest prize of a state title, a super team from Monson, a small town in western Massachusetts where soccer rules, denied Hennessey and coach Mike D’Agostino’s Spartans their chance to be No. 1 forever.
“We just couldn’t handle their offense,” said Hennessey. “Monson was a very good team and I congratulate them on being a state champion.”
The night after the state title game Hennessey received the team’s Best Offensive Player Award at the awards banquet at Spinelli’s in Lynnfield. Assistant coach Joe Gill made the presentation at the Nov. 22 dinner.
“The heart he has is admirable. He missed a couple of games to injury this year but came back with a wonderful facemask,” said Gill, drawing an appreciative response from the crowd. “He really turned it up, the maturity as well as the goal count. He was a true asset to the team down the stretch.”
Mike D’Agostino, who has steered Hennessey’s career since his arrival as an eighth grader in the program five years ago, also had praise for the standout forward.
“Dan is a talented and skilled forward who is very aggressive in the air,” said D’Agostino. “He showed it in the last game when he jumped for the ball and scored that amazing goal. He had the hustle and drive to put that ball in the net. Once he found that hunger this season, he didn’t stop putting that ball in the back of the net. He showed some really good leadership this year. Dan is a special kid and he will be hard to replace on our front line.”
Dan Hennessey began playing soccer at the age of 6 on a Lynn Youth Soccer Rebels team coached by his mother, Annette Hennessey. He played club soccer for the Aztecs but he returned to LYS and is in his final season with the U-19 team.
Hennessey’s five productive years in the St. Mary’s High School varsity soccer program top his personal list of career achievements in the sport. He truly saved his best for last, scoring two spectacular goals in the state final. Hennessey tipped his cap to teammates Kevin Esper and Olu George for assisting on the pair of tallies that stunned the large Munson crowd and gave hope to the St. Mary’s supporters in Milford.
“This is the first year I had a breakout season,” said Hennessey, who was selected a Catholic Central League and Eastern Mass. All-Star. “Coach D’Agostino has brought me along well as a player. He’s been a great coach throughout my whole career and I wouldn’t be the type of player I am today without his guidance, instruction, and encouragement.”
Hennessey said getting to the state final was “a great experience” for the entire team. He reached deep into his competitive nature and emerged as a force in the MIAA Tournament.
“ I think I realized that it was the last time that I was ever going to put on the jersey so I had to give it all out,” said Hennessey. “The last game [versus Monson] was very emotional. It’s definitely an honor getting there through the ups and downs of the whole season and getting an injury and coming back. I’m proud of the boys on this team for getting to the state final.”
Jim and Annette Hennessey were proud observers at the awards banquet, fully aware that their son and his teammates had accomplished something memorable in the autumn of 2015. They’re grateful to those who helped their son reach his full potential as a student-athlete.
“Dan has always been an active kid so sports like soccer, baseball and skiing have always been a big part of our family,” said Annette Hennessey. “I think of all the people that helped Dan over the years and I am extremely grateful. Dan’s heart and passion for soccer comes from within but he was greatly influenced by his coaches, including Mike D’Agostino, J
oe Gill and Nick Moschella, along with past and present teammates.”
Dan Hennessey, who also plays baseball for the defending state champion Spartans, hopes to continue in soccer at the collegiate level. He has corresponded with Colby-Sawyer, Franklin Pierce, Western New England, and Curry College.
“I’m going to miss playing soccer at St. Mary’s, though,” said Hennessey. “I will definitely always bleed blue and gold.”