NORTH EASTHAM – It’s a strategy that’s become a calling card for the Nauset boys soccer program.
Although the Warriors want to play strong soccer throughout every game, they especially want to be at their best in the opening minutes, where an early goal can provide them with a spark while simultaneously forcing opponents to play on their heels and from behind.
Nauset executed that philosophy perfectly Saturday when it hosted Monomoy. Freshman Omari Perry sparked the quick start with a goal in the fifth minute, while senior Nate Watring and junior Charlie Cushing both added first-half goals that helped guide the Warriors to a 3-0 victory over the Sharks.
“We were very good in the first half, especially the way we started,” Nauset coach John McCully said. “It was important for us to get a clean sheet. Our focus was to start quickly, get on them, and then finish with a clean sheet because we had been allowing some goals.”
Nauset (4-0) was playing without a few key pieces, including senior midfielder Arlo Haughton-Lawless and senior goalkeeper Chase Lemieux. Sophomore Dominic Bebber answered the call to pitch a shutout between the pipes, while Perry helped provide offense with his third goal of the season.
The upperclassmen have been impressed with the impact the freshman has made thus far.
“He’s the man,” Watring said of Perry. “I was on the team as a freshman but I wasn’t like him. He’s got talent, he’s a good kid and I like playing with him.”
Watring has been the engine driving Nauset the past couple seasons. He led the Cape and Islands League in scoring last season and is already approaching a double-digit goal total after bringing his season tally to eight following Saturday’s goal.
Knowing that teams, specifically Monomoy, are familiar with his style of play, Watring said he’s grown accustomed to how he needs to attack opposing defenses.
“I always have a sense that they know how we like to play,” said Watring, a Yarmouth resident. “They always have another guy on me, so I just have to learn to play quickly and just be ready.”
Perry, an Eastham resident, said he’s enjoyed learning from Watring and the other upperclassmen.
“It’s great to play with these guys,” he said. “They motivate me and I get along with them. They show me a lot of new stuff, which I’m really grateful for and I appreciate.”
Although it wasn’t the result the Sharks (3-1-1) had hoped for, Monomoy coach Keith Clark said he was proud of the way his team competed.
“We really battled the whole game,” Clark said. “I’m really proud of our guys because obviously Nauset is the standard for soccer on the Cape. To battle them 0-0 in the second half showed a lot of character.”
Clark said that despite fielding a young lineup, his players have shown that they have high hopes for this season.
“They realize we have potential this year,” he said. “Even though we have five sophomores in the starting lineup, it’s still a group that’s played together for years, so they’re excited about what they can do, not just this year but in the future.”
Like Monomoy, McCully said Nauset’s goal is to continue to improve.
“Our goal is to keep getting better every day,” McCully said. “We want to be at our best at the end of the year.”
Email Brad Joyal at email@example.com. Twitter: @BradJoyal