The last time the Cape Cod Tech boys soccer program had a season was in 2019, when the Crusaders finished with a 12-7-2 record after advancing to the semifinals of the Division 4 South sectional tournament.
That group was full of experienced upperclassmen — an advantage this year’s group doesn’t possess. The Crusaders boast a young roster during the Fall II season, with just three seniors and two juniors on a squad comprised of nine freshmen and four sophomores.
“We are very young with a lot of freshmen,” said Cape Tech coach Ivan Popov.
The growing pains the Crusaders have experienced this season were on display Saturday morning in Fall River when they faced a Diman RVT team that has only allowed one goal through seven games. The Bengals ultimately earned a 5-0 victory as Cape Tech moved to 0-5 on the season.
“They are full of seniors that play club soccer,” Popov said, referencing Diman, which improved to 7-0. “My players are still trying to find their rhythm — they’ve been out of athletics for over a year, so they’re still getting there. They’re a very young team, very inexperienced.”
The freshmen did display some signs of encouragement for the Crusaders, most notably goalkeeper Ian Brownville, who made 13 saves in defeat. Another freshman, Santiago Marin, constantly found himself possessing the ball at midfield. Even if their hard work has yet to translate into results in the win column, Popov has been impressed with the way his youngsters have handled the adversity they’ve faced.
He’s also been thrilled about their work ethic.
“What I like is they give their best on the field,” Popov said. “They try their best to learn each other and how to work with each other.”
For the upperclassmen, it’s been a joy to be back on the field — even if the make up of the team is younger than past years.
“Honestly, we’re just happy to be back,” said junior Tafari Burke, a Hyannis resident. “Almost all of our team is freshmen, but it’s good to be back.”
Popov described Burke as a leader for the Crusaders. The junior said the key to leading a group with so many new faces is being flexible and understanding that everybody has a different learning style, a process that can take time to grasp.
“Everybody is different,” he said. “Everybody learns differently and has different personalities. We need to learn and adjust to them and help them.”
Saturday’s game against Diman provided the Crusaders with a clear picture of what they could look like in a couple years once their younger players have a few years of experience playing at the varsity level.
The Bengals’ production was provided by a collection of upperclassmen, as junior Aiden Cordeiro scored two goals while his classmate, Colin Perreira, also bested Brownville for a tally. Seniors Gancalo Chaves and Kobe Dasilva also scored and senior goalkeeper Devin Porto continued his dominant streak between the pipes.
Although the future certainly looks promising for Cape Tech, the players on this year’s team are still hopeful they’ll be able to record at least one — or more — victories before the season is done.
“It’s been a tough year, but at least we’re out here playing,” said senior Michael Walsh, a Marstons Mills resident. “I hope in our next couple games we’re able to get a couple wins. I think we should be able to.”
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