Boys’ soccer looks to defend Division I North title

by Kristian Lundberg

Last year, boys’ soccer, led by rookie coach Roy Dow, made a fairytale run deep into the postseason, winning the Division I North title in the process.
The Tigers, seeded 19th out of 26 teams in the sectional playoffs, played four games in six days, winning all of them to set the stage for the Sectional Championship against arch-rival  Brookline.

In that game, the Tigers came from behind to win, scoring an equalizer in the second half before knocking out the Warriors in the penalty shootout.
Although the Tigers subsequently lost a heartbreaker to New Bedford in the State Semifinals, the run set a standard of success that Dow hopes to continue.

“This year, we hope to improve our win total and turn the losses and ties we had last year into wins,” Dow said.

“Last year, some teams looked over us, but this year we expect to be one of the toughest games for our opponents.”

However, Dow said he was not putting too much focus on the State Tournament this early in the season.

“We have the rest of the regular season in front of us before we can tackle the tournament,” he said, adding that the team “needs to be ready to go and play smart in games.”

To equal or improve on last year’s playoff finish, Dow said the Tigers, 2-3-2 Tuesday, would rely on “an experienced group of players coming back.”
“I expect the older players to help mentor the younger ones,” he said.

“We have a lot of players who are not only good soccer players, but also good athletes.”

Last year, the Tigers were able to compete with some of the toughest teams in the State Tournament because of their strong defense, which conceded only two goals during the team’s run to the Sectional Finals.

This year, Dow is working on the team’s offense.

“Last year, we were good at closing down space, and we still have a strong D, but we’ve been putting work into how we possess the ball,” he said.

Although the Tigers had some early season trouble with finishing, the Tigers’ offense and possession skills are improving, according to senior Tim Stanton, a captain with senior Luke Westman.

“We’re in a better place, and we’re coming along,” he said. “It’s kind of a long process.”

Tomorrow, the Tigers will battle Brookline on the road, before heading to Natick Tuesday.

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