2016 Berkshire County high school boys soccer preview
Coach: David Pugh (4th year)
Last year: 13-6-2, lost to Monson in Western Mass. D-IV final
Key returnees: Matt Tibbetts, Jr.; Nic Baruch, Jr.; Joe Bouvier, Sr.; Michael Abdalla, Jr.
Outlook: The Millionaires fell on the doorstep of a Western Mass. title last season, and in 2016 the team is looking to get over that final hurdle. While Lenox has big questions to answer in the heart of the defense, everywhere else on the field is stacked with talent. Juniors Nic Baruch and Michael Abdalla return in attack, with Abdalla returning after leading the team in scoring in 2015. In goal, junior Matt Tibbetts returns as one of the better keepers in the section, and senior Joe Bouvier brings some experience to a back line that is being reshuffled.
Senior Luke Murphy returns on the wing, and Lenox's final senior, Connor Parkinson, returns after a year away from the sport. 10 juniors make up a bulk of the team. In defense, Tristan Collins will look to take another step forward as a sophomore, while Nick Monteleone will have a role to play on defense, as well, when he returns from injury. Other notable names to watch for include, among others, Alec Jordan, Keveen Delgado and Matt Heim.
Coach: Andrew Antil (8th year)
Last year: 11-4-4, lost in Western Mass. D-I first round
Key returnees: Jackson Rich, Sr.; Quinn Matthews, Sr.; Evan Benson, Sr.; Jon Bile, Sr.
Outlook: "The team chemistry is outstanding," coach Andrew Antil said of his squad. "I haven't seen team chemistry like this in a long time. In high school sports, that goes a long way." What may also go a long way is Pittsfield's victory in the Pioneer Valley summer high school league.
The Generals will have to replace All-Eagle pick Louis Higuera, who scored 20 goals in the last two seasons. Antil said that no one player will be counted on to pick up the slack. But senior co-captain Jackson Rich had 10 goals last year and is a two-time, All-Eagle first teamer. The defense is solid with co-captain Quinn Matthews and goalie Jon Bile.
Coach: Matt Naventi (6th year)
Last year: 9-7-4, lost in Western Mass. D-III semifinals
Key returnees: Dan Newey, Sr. Matt Amstead, Sr.; Mitch Amstead, Sr.; Kevin Kelly, Jr.
Outlook: Coach Naventi likes the makeup of his team for 2016, and after a late run to the Western Mass. Division III semifinals after an up-and-down regular season, the Spartans are poised for more. Naventi thinks the key for his team this year is cutting down on the number of goals given up, and senior Elias Garavaltis and junior Kevin Kelly will go a long way in helping the cause. Garavaltis will lead the defense, with Kelly back in goal after his sophomore season.
Up front, the Spartans have a handful of scoring and creating options, led by the senior trio of Dan Newey and Matt and Mitch Amstead. Naventi is hoping that "even if they can get our three older returning players, we have enough capacity around them to still be able to do pretty well."
Coach: Blair Dils (18th year)
Last year: 10-6-1, Berkshire North champions, lost in Western Mass. D-III quarterfinals
Key returnees: Kyle Bazonski, Sr.; Zach Condon, Sr.; Naka O'Connor, Sr.; Sam Dils, Jr.
Outlook: The Mounties enter the year with nine starters back from last season, and a wealth of upperclassmen experience. While the loss of All-Berkshire co-MVP Benni McComish in the midfield and Cal Filson in goal certainly hurt a bit, coach Blair Dils thinks the team has enough to be a contender.
In defense, seniors Kyle Bazonski and Zach Condon return as anchors, and up front Naka O'Connor and Sam Dils will provide a scoring punch. Coach Dils thinks his team is "skilled" in the front six positions, and will "be organized defensively, and be able to put the ball in the net."
The goalkeeping position is still up for grabs between a trio of contenders, while Matt Kleiner and Brady Foehl will get chances to slot into McComish's vacant spot in the midfield.
Coach: John Kovacs (29th year)
Last year: 4-11-1
Key returnees: Sean Harvey, Sr.; Isaac Voltoline, Sr.; Anthony DonDiego, Jr.; Devon Mikaniewicz, Sr.
Outlook: Coming off of a rough 2015 campaign, the Warriors head into the season with an experienced core of players that will look to get the team back into the Western Mass. tournament.
The bulk of Wahconah's experience comes at the back. Senior captain Sean Harvey returns in the middle of the defense, and welcomes back junior Brent Sinopoli next to him and fullbacks Devon Mikaniewicz and Hayden Cantoni. In goal, junior Anthony DonDiego is also back. Coach John Kovacs said the team's goal is to get back into the tournament, and that "with our defense being somewhat of a veteran defense, that will be a good goal to have."
In the midfield, senior captain Isaac Voltoline will pull the strings in the middle of the park along with classmate Dalton Dean. Up front, sophomore Chad Howes comes back with a year of experience, and junior Matt Lighten will provide Wahconah with a speedy attacking option.
Coach: John Jacobbe
Last year: 2-13-3
Key returnees: Brian Christian, Sr.; Jon Boland, Jr.; Oscar Alvarez, Sr.
Outlook: The Blue Devils head into the season with only one way to go — up. After struggling through 2015, the Blue Devils return a good core of players, but have to make up for the absence of Jake Daugherty and Logan Rumbolt, the team's two top scorers from last year. The Blue Devils will also enter the season with a bit of confidence after closing last year with a 2-3-1 mark after a winless start.
Brian Christian returns in goal for his senior year, and has defenders Jon Boland (junior) and Oscar Alvarez (senior) back in front of him. In attack, a pair of sophomores in Cove Massey and Max Daugherty will look to lead the way. Other players to watch for this year include Mitchell Anderson (junior), Bryce Webb (senior) and Danny Alvarez (sophomore).
Coach: Mike Russo (2nd year)
Last year: 3-9-4
Key returnees: Colin Rousseau, Sr.; Steven Crouch, Sr.; Keagan McGrath, Sr.; Paolo Kareh, Soph.
Outlook: The Hurricanes have a lot of holes to fill this season. With a majority of the defense gone and a pair of attackers, Hoosac has a tall task ahead for 2016. Coach Russo said that his team knows it has work to do, but the preseason training was "positive, and everyone worked hard."
Colin Rousseau does bring some experience to the back line, and will be a key figure for the Hurricanes along with fellow senior captain Steven Crouch, who plays in the midfield. A third senior, Keagan McGrath, also returns to lead the forward line. Two sophomores that will get serious playing time are Jacob Halverson and Paolo Karch, both of whom will patrol the midfield with Crouch. Expect the trio to be the driving force for the team. Jayden Cooper will start in goal after being called up from the JV squad, and despite his youth coach Mike Russo said he's "reasonably strong, a tough kid."
Coach: Josh King (2nd year)
Last year: 12-3-4, Berkshire South co-champions, lost in Western Mass. D-IV quarterfinals
Key returnees: Ellis Waldman, Sr.; Dan Litchfield, Sr.; Brendan Dempsey, Jr.; Tim Robitaille, Sr.
Outlook: Mount Everett heads into 2016 with a few holes to fill in the roster, but has experience in enough positions to remain competitive in the league and in the division. Senior Ellis Waldman will have to shield a new goaltender this year, while on the opposite side of the pitch Dan Litchfield returns as one of the leading scorers from a year ago. Patrick Silk is set to take over in goal after working as the JV keeper last season.
Senior Tim Robitaille is also back on defense, and juniors Brendan Dempsey and Cavan Brady bring experience into the middle of the park. A few younger names to watch out for include Anthony Lupiani, Nikos Casivant and Eduardo Rodriguez.
Coach: Juan Ramos (2nd year)
Last year: 11-2-5, Berkshire South co-champions, lost in Western Mass. D-IV quarterfinals
Key returnees: Peter Xu, Sr.; Will Soh, Jr.; Robert Paterson, Jr.
Outlook: After a stellar 2015 season saw the Crusaders take a part of a league title, the team is starting all over again according to second-year coach Juan Ramos. St. Joe brings six kids back from last year, and around them the team will work in younger players. The team is also continuing its co-op with Lee.
Ramos welcomes back Peter Xu and Will Soh on defense and Rob Paterson in the midfield as the captains. Lee's Bryan Chavez is another returner in the midfield, as are Justin Guo and Luis Ortiz. Younger players to watch out for include freshman Lucas Kisies, who will try and fill part of the goal scoring lost by Mike Peplowski's graduation, and Lee sophomore Hugo Chioderoli.
Coach: Mark Wasnewsky (7th year)
Last year: 6-9-3
Key returnees: Ryan Abel, Sr.; Cody Latimer, Sr.; Nick Donahue, Sr.; Jason Peprah, Sr.
Outlook: After two straight years of just missing out on the playoffs, the Braves hope 2016 can be the year that sees them get over the hump. Coach Mark Wasnewsky said the expectations are high amongst the team, although with just 14 players and no JV team, Taconic has to stay healthy all year.
Ryan Abel returns as the midfield anchor for Taconic and will be a big part of the Braves' gameplan. Cody Latimer is back in goal for his third season, and senior Nick Donahue will either play next to Abel or just in front of Latimer. In attack, Jason Peprah will be looked to for some goals.
Coach: Tom Bona (2nd year)
Last year: 8-8-3, Tri-County North champions, lost in first round of Western Mass. D-IV tournament
Key returnees: Brendan Piaggi, Sr.; Nico Moreno, Sr.; Michael Wojtaszek, Jr.; Lukas Zelazo, Jr.
Outlook: The defending Tri-County North champions enter the year looking to repeat in the league, and will try and make it back to the state vocational tournament after missing out last year. Coach Tom Bona has a seasoned squad with only four underclassmen on the roster, and is expecting a lot from his juniors and seniors.
Senior Nico Moreno returns in goal, and has returning juniors Javen Reinhardt and Lukas Zelazo in front of him. Nathan and Ryan Charon also bring back experience in defense and midfield, respectively, and junior strikers Michael Wojtaszek and Josh Favre return up top. Two other seniors, Brendan Piaggi and Steven Lemire, will also help lead the team.
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