Boys’ Soccer falls short of tournament

By Nick Sobel
Published: November 2009

Although the Boys’ Soccer team drastically improved on its overall performance last season, it once again found itself looking in on the state tournament from the outside.

With a new head coach and a plethora of talent, the 2009 season looked promising for the Lions. A lack of execution hindered the team from playoff contention.

“We had the talent to achieve our goal; we just lacked focus on and off the field, junior and midfielder Colby Medoff said.

The team, despite its shortcomings in the win column, played a very exciting brand of soccer, which prompted many more South students to attend games. Even with the strong support, however, the Boys’ Soccer team seemed unable to put together two solid halves in the first portion of its season.

“That’s what really differentiates a good team from a great team, senior and captain Alex Casler said. “We could compete with the great teams for a moment, but we couldn’t string together enough good minutes in a row.

“To take the next step as a team, we all need to buy in to [Head Coach John Conte's] program. Ultimately, that’s how it goes and that’s what we’ll need to do if we want to make the tournament in the future.

Despite early troubles, South had an opportunity to qualify for the state tournament. The late-season effort proved to be too little too late, as Lincoln-Sudbury triumphed over the Lions. The defeat echoed the same issues that hindered the team all season. South seemed to be in control with a 3-1 advantage late in the second half, but ended up losing focus and the lead.

During that two game winning streak, the Lions played with passion and had great communication. They developed a strong team defense over the two matches.

A few lineup changes facilitated this improvement. Senior and captain Mark Garrity switched from his usual midfield position to forward, joining seniors and fellow captains Tamir Zinger and Brendan Shanny.

Untested sophomore Miles Meth, who played brilliantly and even scored a goal in a win against Boston Latin, replaced standout junior and midfielder Eitan Bulka after Bulka was sidelined due to ineligibility.

Casler, a defensive star for the Lions all season, continued to frustrate opposing forwards with his skill and speed. The Lion’s defensive front played strong with Casler, sophomore Peter Natov, and juniors Alex Foner and Jojo Lee in front of senior goalie Josh Richards.

The Lions finished their season on a sour note. An athletic and talented Needham club outplayed and outmatched the Boys’ Soccer team.

Although the Lions failed to achieve their goal of qualifying for the state tournament, they certainly improved dramatically from their one-win season in 2008. “It wasn’t just wins; we were more of a team, Casler said of the team’s progress. “Coach Conte promoted positive reinforcement which really helped us.

With high-level players such as Bulka returning for the 2010 campaign, the Lions look poised for another attempt at a tournament bid.

“Eitan is a special player, there’s no doubt about that, Garrity said. “Once he really focuses on the game and drowns out his off-the-field issues, he could show how special he really is.

This year’s Lions showed that they needed no courage this season, and although they came up short, they came together at crucial times and gave South “Super-Fans someone to root for.

Another year to acclimate to Conte’s system, combined with the sophomores’ and juniors’ further maturation, will only bring the program closer to the state tournament.

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