The extraordinary circumstances of this year’s season are giving the boys soccer team an opportunity to focus even more of its efforts into growth, both for individual players and for the team as a whole.
“It’s an amazing opportunity to actually develop players,” said head coach Marcus Christian, who noted the challenges to team growth that come from a weekly schedule that sometimes includes as many as three games in a single week.
Without the emphasis on preparing for individual opponents, players should have more freedom this season to work on every aspect of their game, said Christian. Players will have opportunities to experience more different roles and positions during practices. “We want players to do it all,” he said.
Two-year captain Asa Tuke ’21 echoed these sentiments, adding that the team still is focused on maximum effort. “Just because we aren’t playing any games doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be putting in just as much if not more work to be prepared for whenever we have the opportunity to compete against other schools.”
Last season, Christian’s first at the helm, he saw the team take several important steps forward in both work ethic and teamwork. “We showed we can play with the best in New England when we fight for each other and when we’re committed to making the player next to us look good,” he said, harkening back to the team’s 1-1 away tie against NMH, who would go on to the top seed in last year’s NEPSAC tournament.
One of the important factors in the team’s improvement has been the development of starting goalie Justin DiCarlo, a three-year varsity player and a two-year starter. DiCarlo’s improvement last season had a ripple effect on the rest of the team, especially the defense, said Christian.
“He has the same selfless attitude that the team has when it is fighting for each other,” said Christian. “Players took more pride in defending their goal – making that extra run back, being more accountable.”
This year’s team also features a large senior class, and Christian said he hoped the nine seniors on the team would have an impact that would last beyond their graduation. “I hope that [Tuke] and the senior class can realize that they’ve started something significant,” he said.
Tuke agreed. “I think the seniors have a big role this year to mentor and help the younger guys on the team, and to be leaders and role models for everyone else,” he said.
Christian had praise for many of the seniors, and he offered special kudos to defenseman Gilbert Lauridsen ’21 for his work ethic, despite an injury-plagued upper mid year. “He is humble and will work hard every single day,” said Christian. “I hope he will pass on those values to the other people in the program.”
Although COVID has certainly affected the team’s activities in myriad ways, Tuke said that from his perspective, practices still feel very familiar. This year there is more of an emphasis on partner work and specific skill building, and drills that allow the players to space out more easily, he said.