By Ronan Henderson
While many believe that the fall sports season starts in late August, many teams’ quest for rings begins in late June at captains’ practice. For HHS boys soccer, captains’ practice is the ultimate tool not only for readying our skills for the season, but in getting the team chemistry right. It is during these practices when the team bonding really kicks in, from getting to know the new freshmen to finding nicknames for the many players in the program. Nicknames have become a mainstay in the HHS boys soccer culture. Some of the most famous from this past year have been Wes “Willy Ripski” Notarangelo, Patrick “Stew” Walsh, Cole “Sweener” Sweeney, Sam “Deener” Bristol, Joe “Hillary” Clinton and Andrew “Hoodie Fe” Ferreira, just to name a few. Throughout the summer, day in and day out, we left it all on the turf. From the grueling workouts with Coach Kaufman to the team runs followed by swims, we all had our eyes on one thing: winning.
The interesting thing about this team was the fact that some coaches around the league counted us out before the season even began. While some teams would use this as an excuse, we used it as fuel, picking up a big win over Rockland in the season opener and an impressive draw against Duxbury two games later. The beauty of this team was the fact that everyone knew – and embraced – their roles from the start. While some athletes may not be thrilled with sitting on the bench, the players on the sidelines for boys soccer pumped up the team and stayed ready to have their number called at any given moment (quick shout out to Sweener and Deener #benchgang).
As the season progressed, the team picked up key wins against Pembroke, Quincy, and Plymouth South. While every win was a team effort, the defense shined for the Indians. The dynamic duo of junior Jake Heyl and Walsh, a sophomore, had opponents feeling helpless. On top of that, senior captain Sam Perkins had a great season along with fellow fullback Brendan Quinn. In the wise words of Paul “Bear” Bryant, “defense wins championships.” Another key to our success this year was the pair of senior strikers in Ferreira and Notarangelo, who played gritty and found the back of the net when we needed it most. An example of this was during the Indians first playoff game against Joseph Case High School, when Notorangelo got the home crowd pumped after scoring the game-deciding goal in a 1-0 win. In the midfield, senior captain James Clarkson was a magnet, winning all 50/50 balls within 10 feet of him all year long. To go along with that, senior Alec McArthur and junior Caleb Pongratz both enjoyed breakout campaigns. The true unsung hero of the team was junior Joe Clinton, who had never played goalie prior to the season and was a brick wall at all times. Key contributions also came from the bench.
Unfortunately, the one factor throughout the season that the team could not control was injuries. For whatever reason, the team was cursed with injuries, with up to seven players sidelined throughout the season. Sophomore Danny McDonald tried to fight through his foot injury, but was forced to miss most of the year. Rising star Conor McCann, a junior, endured a nagging back injury that forced him to miss a number of games as well. Yours truly was also stuck sidelined eight games with a concussion, as was Joe Clinton for a few games. It should be noted though that without the excellent care of Hanover’s trainer Amy Tessitore, the team would have had even more players out. Despite the injuries, the team found a way to rise above and gut out wins. The main philosophy of the team was not to try and win the game all at once, but take it in 5-minute increments winning each five until we hit the 80-minute mark. The Indians would go on to lose to Norwell in the playoffs, ending their season with a strong 9-7-4 record.
As a team, the one thing we managed to do day in and day out was to leave everything we had out on that field. That quite simply would not have been possible without the guidance of our captains Perkins and Clarkson, dedicated players throughout their years with the program. The seniors in general were great at showing the underclassmen a strong example for years to come in the program. Our success also would not have been possible without the time put in by Coach Rodday and other coaches and volunteers who prepared us for anything in game scenarios as well as looked after us off of the soccer field. Most importantly, it was the fans that the team had to thank the most. From the hardcore parents going to every game no matter the weather, to the students showing up and getting loud during home games, the season quite simply would not have been the same without you.
While this may be the end for graduating seniors, the Indians soccer team looks to keep this intensity going for years to come. With all of the up-and-coming talent this program has to offer, it’s no wonder they have been deemed the “young core.” As far as soccer goes, the boys will look to continue their dominant defensive unit next year and will continue to work toward a deep postseason run next season.
Featured team photo courtesy of DJ Meads Photography. Other photos provided by author.