Boys Soccer: Circling for Success
By Ellen Oliver
The Nashoba boys’ soccer team began their season with a match against Westborough at home on Friday, September6 as part of a busy afternoon of sports in Bolton. A quick look at the Rangers roster and one number repeats down the list: 12. The Rangers boast 15 seniors on their team compared to Nashoba with eight.
“We knew they were a strong, experienced team. They’ve played together a long time,” said Senior Captain Ross Cressman.
The Ranger’s experience may seem apparent in the final result, Westborough over Nashoba 2-0, bu not during the game. Westborough scored in the first ten minutes, but the Chieftains held them until the Rangers struck again with ten minutes left in the game.
“We were soft in the first fifteen minutes and conceded a goal early,” said Coach Jim McKinley. “We could have completed better; we just couldn’t find the back of the net.”
But first games aren’t always about wins and losses, it’s how the team responds that can be more important than the score of an opener. After the game, Nashoba remained in a huddle as the Rangers walked from the upper field and boarded their bus. Cressman said they have a tradition after every game to do an immediate debrief.
“We go around the circle and everyone says what went well and things we need to work on. We go from there to practice,” he said. Cressman explained the tradition started last year and is valuable because it ensures the team is all on the same page.
“We saw what to fix and know how to fix them and keep improving,” agreed David Czapkowski, a junior and the goal keeper for the second half of the Westborough game.
Czapkowski inherited a 1-0 deficit when he took over goal keeping duties at the half. “I do my best and save as many as I can,” he said. “One goal just slipped in.”
In their post-game circle, Nashoba recognized they needed to connect more on passes and up their communication. So at 9:00 am Saturday morning, the team did two hours of passing drills while yelling out names and calling instructions with each pass to encourage the chatter.
Cressman shares captain duties with fellow senior Mike Kelberman, also a defender. “Both captains are in the back,” said Cressman. “We’re definitely the loudest on the field, but everyone else needs to be talking too.”
“Technically we need more focus,” said Coach McKinley, but he’s confident the pieces are in place, including a backline that is the same as last years’ 12-3-3 team. “It’s great to have those guys in back. It’s exactly the same group,” said the coach.
McKinley also has his eight seniors spread strategically around the field: Cressman and Kelberman in back, along with goalie Beau Brassard and Shea Cruickshank; Drew Parrow at midfield with Sanjo Ramos; and Dan Romhanyi and Graham Atkinson as strikers.
Parrow, a fourth year varsity player, was injured in a scrimmage against St John’s and sat out the game against Westborough. “It will be great to get Drew back,” said Cressman.
Filling in the gaps are juniors and sophomores, many of whom are completely new to the varsity squad and the intense level of play. “We have a lot of young guys, talented young guys. For many of them it was the first time stepping into a varsity paced game,” said Cressman. “They did well. They were challenged for sure, but I’m pleased with how well they did.”
As one of the players with limited varsity experience, Czapkowski is confident in his role as part of his defensive unit. “I’ve played with these guys all three years so far. We talk, help each other out. We communicate very well,” he said.
Like most teams, the Nashoba boys’ soccer team wants to focus on the game in front of them and doesn’t dwell on far-off goals like league titles, although they nabbed a piece of one last year. “If we go out there, focus on the game and do our best, the record will take care of itself,” said Cressman.
The Chieftains will continue to make improvements and go head-to-head against tough teams in their competitive D1 league. “We’re in the top of the heap,” said Coach McKinley, which is just fine with him and his players. “If we’re going to play, let’s play.”