HARWICH – There’s something about the term “rebuilding year” that just didn’t sit well with Monomoy boys soccer coach Keith Clark.
Clark knew the Sharks were going to field a relatively young lineup this fall, but he still didn’t want any labels to define what his team could accomplish this season.
“People wanted to call this year a rebuilding year but I didn’t want to have that mentality — I thought we should still be challenged,” Clark said Friday afternoon, following Monomoy’s 3-0 road victory over crosstown rival Cape Cod Tech.
Even with an inexperienced team, the Sharks still set their sights on qualifying for the Division 4 state tournament after state tournaments were cancelled throughout the state all of last year due to COVID-19.
Following a 7-2 victory over St. John Paul II on Oct. 26 and Friday’s win over the Crusaders, Monomoy closed out the regular season Sunday with a 4-0 shutout win over Sturgis East. The Sharks finished with a 6-7-5 record after winning their last three games, though they’ll still have to wait to learn whether they’ll qualify for the state tournament, which is being determined by a new points system.
“It’s going to come down to power rankings,” Clark said. “If we can beat Sturgis East and a couple other teams lose, we might slip into one of those lower spots. It’s going to be difficult, though, quite frankly.”
Regardless of whether Monomoy does ultimately slip into the postseason, Clark and his players were pleased with the way they overcame adversity when their backs were against the walls during the final stretch of the season.
“I think the pressure is making us play better,” said freshman Ryan Laramee, a Harwich resident who scored all three goals in the Cape Tech victory and then two more in Sunday’s finale.
Laramee anchors a strong core of underclassmen who have proved to be key contributors for Monomoy this fall.
“We started three freshmen up top and one in the back today, so the future looks bright,” Clark said, adding that as strong as the offense was, it helped to have senior captain Wes Ulrich providing a steady presence for the backline.
“I think Wes was key in the back,” Clark continued. “He plays really solid, and then you have Finn [Hyora] the freshman next to him and Colin [Moore] in the midfield — I think he just eats up a lot of territory and cuts out a lot of balls that are dangerous.”
Laramee, Hyora and the stable of other underclassmen playing in the program give Clark and the Sharks plenty to be excited about for future seasons. Ulrich said he has enjoyed his senior year and having the opportunity to watch some of the younger players improve throughout the fall.
“It’s been a fun ride,” said Ulrich, a Harwich resident. “It’s a lot different being a senior and a captain seeing all the younger kids develop and stuff as opposed to being one of the younger kids looking up. It’s kind of cool to see the program kind of move in a different direction.”
Even in defeat, the Cape Tech players were able to appreciate the big picture. The Crusaders finished with a 9-5-3 record, which should be enough to qualify for the Division 5 state tournament once the dust settles on the playoff seeding.
“It’s been a really good year for us,” said Cape Tech senior captain Tafari Burke, a Hyannis resident. “A lot of our players really stepped up — Jace [Clady] is one of the top scorers in the league and he did a really good job.
Today wasn’t what we were expecting, but we were missing some player to injury.”
As much as Clady has made a difference for the Crusaders, the talented underclassman hardly takes all of the credit.
“To be honest, it’s my midfielders,” Clady, a Yarmouth resident, answered when asked what has been the key to his success this fall. “They have been getting me the through-balls that I’ve been looking for and I’ve been finishing them off — that’s it.”
The state tournaments are expected to begin Thursday with opening-round games. The tournament’s field was not announced as of press time.
Email Brad Joyal at email@example.com. Twitter: @BradJoyal