Boys’ soccer opens with 2 nonleague winsBy Jay Turner
With every new season comes a new set of challenges, and so far this fall, the CHS boys’ soccer team has answered the bell, opening 2-0 following a pair of nonleague wins over Dedham and Norwood.
For veteran head coach Danny Erickson, the two victories were encouraging for several reasons, especially for a team that is capable of playing much better soccer in his opinion.
“We didn’t play particularly well in either of the two games, but there’s nothing better than learning lessons while you’re winning,” said Erickson. “Although we still have a lot of things to work on, we were able to gut out two wins, and I think that’s the sign of a potentially good team.”
Last Tuesday the Bulldogs welcomed Dedham to Memorial Field in the first-ever matchup between the two schools, and the edge went to the hosts as senior Wolph Gustave snapped a scoreless tie with a beautiful volley midway through the second half on a pass from junior transfer Georgio Papakonstantino.
The Canton backfield also had a strong debut, led by senior captain Sam Larson and senior goalkeeper Art McNally, who earned the shutout in net.
The Bulldogs then traveled to Norwood on Saturday, where they held on for a 2-1 win in a rematch of last season’s south sectional opener. Junior Bart O’Brien was the star in this one as he tallied both of the team’s goals, with assists going to juniors Damian Kozak and Liam Collins.
Erickson said the game was “full of chances for both teams,” but only O’Brien was able to convert — once in the first half and again early in the second on a “great combination of Bulldog passes.”
The Mustangs managed to get one back later in the half and had several chances to tie it up, but McNally and the defense stood tall to preserve Canton’s second win of the season.
After the game, Erickson said he was thrilled to be off to a 2-0 start. “Playing two Bay State League teams and getting two W’s is a great accomplishment for us to start out the season,” he said.
Assessing this year’s team, Erickson said he once again has high hopes as the Bulldogs look to get back to the postseason for an eighth consecutive season. To get there, they will have to overcome the loss of nine seniors, including Michael Denehy, who scored the bulk of the team’s goals last season and finished as the second all-time leading scorer with 55 total points.
Erickson plans to lean heavily on the talent and skill of Larson in the back and other returning veterans such as Kozak, O’Brien, and senior Eric Wong. He also plans to work some new players into the mix, including promising sophomore Pat Hession.
As for Canton’s place in the Hockomock League, Erickson said it is still too early to tell, although he agreed with most observers in labeling Oliver Ames as the current favorite.
“We owned the league championship for four years in a row until last year when OA took it from us,” he said. “And this year we’re going to try our hardest to get it back.”
With two nonleague wins under their belt, the Bulldogs were hoping to keep the momentum going this week with games against Kelly-Rex Division opponents North Attleboro and Attleboro. Then it’s on to Franklin on Monday to face the defending Kelly-Rex champs, followed by a home game next Wednesday against Milford and a road date with OA next Friday, September 20.
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