HARWICH – The Nauset boys varsity soccer team is out once again to prove their might, capitalizing on numerous scoring chances in their 6-0 defeat of Monomoy on Oct. 2, the season opener for both teams.
The Warriors made it clear from the start that they’d come to do battle, and though the Sharks kept them to one goal in the opening frame, Nauset gained much momentum in the second, scoring three of its six goals in the quarter, giving the Warriors a comfortable 4-0 edge heading into the second half.
To say that game play was status quo would be untrue. Much like other fall sports, soccer has had its share of changes. Not only must players wear masks for protection, including during game play, they must also adjust to new rules, which include no headers, no slide tackles, and no throw-ins. Throughout game play it was clear that players on both teams were struggling to go against instinct and not head the ball when it became airborne.
The strategy involved in these and other COVID-centric rules is to keep student-athletes from contracting the virus. The rules also extend to fans, with Monomoy only allowing in home fans, who must wear masks and provide contact information at the gate should contact tracing become necessary.
Even with the new rules, however, both teams remained competitive throughout the contest, though it was clearly Nauset’s game. Scoring for the Warriors were Artie O’Neil, Will Schiffer, Anthony Lovati and Chris Pombo.
Schiffer netted the first goal of the game several minutes into regulation play – four quarters now instead of two 40-minute halves – with his teammates following suit. Lovati and Pombo each scored twice in the outing.
While Monomoy had its possessions and its chances, largely thanks to Damarr Beckford, Joao Pedro Paixao, and Sam Higgins, before he left the game with a minor injury, they were unable to get past Nauset goaltenders Henry Watson and Matt Fischer, who divided their time in net.
Defensively, Monomoy goalkeeper Sean Deveau, whom Clark dubbed “a shot stopper,” came away with 19 saves in spite of the loss, while teammate Troy Olson was aggressive in thwarting Nauset’s efforts on numerous occasions.
Monomoy head coach Keith Clark said what worked against the Sharks were injuries and players out due to quarantine.
“We knew we were going to be up against it,” Clark said. “They’re always prepared. We’re thin-rostered because of some players that have been quarantined. But they guys played. They worked hard. Overall, it’s a little worse than I hoped for, but it’s about what I expected in many ways.”
Clark said the new rules took some adjusting to.
“It’s difficult because we weren’t allowed to scrimmage anybody,” he said. “The no heading thing seems to be the most difficult thing for the guys because they can’t figure out how to position their bodies. The other stuff is not that disruptive, but the other thing I don’t understand is that goalkeepers and goal kicks can’t go over midfield. I think it’s kind of arbitrary.”
On the whole, however, Clark was thrilled to have his team get on the turf.
“I’m happy the kids are playing,” he said. “That’s the most important thing. I think back to last spring when those seniors didn’t even get a season. Hopefully we’ll get this season in.”
Nauset head coach John McCully echoed those sentiments.
“It’s just good to be outside playing,” he said. “We spent two weeks playing against each other and the boys are really excited to play a different opponent.”
McCully said the team held two scrimmages between teammates, called “Black and Gold” games, to help them prepare for the upcoming season, albeit shortened and without the traditional state tournament.
“We brought in referees so we would be better prepared for what the referees would be calling in a game,” he said. “We used it as a teachable moment for our kids to learn the guidelines and the rules, and the referees helped us do that.”
McCully deemed the win a total team effort, noting that he played 21 members of the squad in the game.
“It was good to just play a different opponent, plain and simple,” he said.
Next up for Nauset is an Oct. 13 home game against Barnstable beginning at 4 p.m., while Monomoy travels to face St. John Paul II today (Oct. 8) for a 4 p.m. game.