Just For Kicks
---- — Each new season comes with its own set of challenges. More often than not teams are able overcome their respective challenges and iron out all the kinks that come along with being on a new club.
It’s not so much about the outcome, but the journey it takes to get there.
That’s why North Shore Tech/Essex Aggie boys head coach Joel Spruance isn’t concerned that his team remains winless heading into tonight’s Commonwealth Athletic Conference matchup against Mystic Valley. Instead the first year coach is focused on helping the team get better every day.
”I can’t ask for players who are more dedicated to the game,” explained Spruance. “As their coach, I look forward to being with them every day at practice.
”We haven’t seen the results yet this season, but our guys have a never quit attitude. We’ve always said that we will let the results take care of themselves. Our work ethic is the one thing that we can control, so we focus on that every day.
The Bulldogs (0-5) aren’t the same team they were a year ago. Spruance took over for Tom Milaschewski this season and is working to rebuild a team that qualified for the Division 3 North tournament just 12 months ago.
“We graduated 12 seniors and we have a lot of young guys who are trying to improve on last season,” added Spruance. “We are a young, ambitious team that is looking to equal last year’s success of making the state tournament.”
While the expectations are still set high for the Bulldogs, they’re still looking for the first win of the season and Spruance is hoping that some of his top player well lead the team in the right direction.
Both senior captains Harrison Asaro and Nathan Espinal act as the defensive anchors on the field and have improved dramatically since the first game. Mark Mishel and Carter Sheehan aim to control the midfield and are also intense defenders in the center of the field for the Bulldogs. Sophomores Josh Zwiercan (midfield) and Sam Cueva (attack) are two of North Shore’s more creative players when it comes to scoring chances and are the top returning scorers on the team.
”We talk about our first victory and we’re hoping we can celebrate it soon,” added Spruance. “However, we know that unless we go into practice with the goal of getting better every day, victory will always just be out of reach. We know it takes a lot of work to win a soccer game.”
Mystic Valley should be an interesting matchup, having qualified for the tournament the past two years along with the Bulldogs.
”Mystic Valley is always has a solid team and we are looking forward to the challenge,” Spruance said of the matchup. “It should be a well played and hard fought game.”
There are a few interesting games tonight for local soccer fans. Masconomet’s boys are headed to Somerville tonight for an exclusion matchup.
Masco is red hot as of late, winning five straight after trying the Prep in the first game of the season. Keeper Willie Stewart has shutouts in all five of those victories and the Chieftains have outscored opponents 20-1 in last six contests. Somerville is one of the top teams in the state, and will probably the toughest competition Masco will face this season.
”We’re familiar with their style of play,” said Masco head coach Dave Mitchell. “We saw them play last year and they have a ton of skill at all the positions. Somerville is also composed and very fast. We’re going to have to play well, but it’ll be a great game.”
Mitchell also noted that it will be a great test to get ready for the tournament.
Tonight’s Northeastern Conference Large showdown between the Beverly girls and Peabody is sure to peak the interest of all you North Shore soccer fans out there. The Tanners enter the contest at 4-1, while the Panthers come in at 5-1-1. Both teams are undefeated in conference play.
The Salem girls are hosting a Salem Youth Soccer night at Salem State this Friday at 7 p.m. They’ll take on St. Mary’s in a non-league matchup. Admission is free for the youth soccer players, who are encouraged to wear their uniform and bring noise makers and signs.
There will also be a raffle for a chance to win a free week of soccer at the highly successful Lavender Day Boys and Girls soccer camp held during the last week of July in Swampscott. The Camp is run by Salem head coach Fred Day and Swampscott High teacher Cindy Lavender.
St. John’s Prep is playing in the Bay State League Challenge at DeFazio Field in Needham this Saturday and will take on Weymouth. The Eagles have done this for several years now.
The Eagles are also in action this afternoon, with another Catholic Conference matchup against Catholic Memorial. The Prep is riding a six-game win streak, including a non-sanctioned victory over Xavier High in Connecticut.
Over the weekend, junior Patrick Foley (two goals) led his team to a 3-1 win over rival B.C. High, after falling behind early in the second half.
”We knew we need some sort of spark,” explained Foley. “When coach subbed in Peter (McManus), Mike (Lanza) and myself we put everything on the line to try and win it for the team and we did that.”
Danvers senior keeper Leah Ciampa recorded her third consecutive shutout on Monday night in 7-0 win over Gloucester. Sophomore Allie Zunick got an exciting birthday gift in the victory as well: She netted her first varsity goal.
Just For Kicks, a column on North Shore high school soccer, appears every Wednesday in The Salem News. Contact staff writer Gianna Addario at 978-338-2615, GAddario@salemnews.com and follow her on Twitter @GiannaAddarioSN.