Upset Win Propels Nauset Boys Soccer In Division 2 Tournament

By: Brad Joyal

Topics: School Sports , Soccer , Nauset Regional High School

Nauset coach John McCully said he expects Melrose to provide the Warriors with a tough test in Thursday’s second-round matchup. BRAD JOYAL PHOTO

All season, Nauset boys soccer coach John McCully has preached about the importance of playing with a lead. It’s a perfect strategy for McCully’s Warriors, who boast a talented group of offensive players that are capable of scoring at a moment’s notice.

Nauset executed  that same strategy in its Division 2 state tournament opener. After establishing control following early goals by seniors Grayson Farber and Arlo Haughton-Lawless, the No. 22 Warriors held onto their lead and completed a 2-1 upset of No. 11 Billerica on Saturday in Billerica.

“We knew it was going to be a difficult game just because the opponent was an unknown, and the travel obviously,” McCully said. “I think it was important for us to come out strong and we scored early in that game. We were leading 2-0 after 20 minutes, so that was a great start by our guys and I think that settled our nerves a little bit as well.”

The victory secured a trip to the Round of 16 for Nauset (14-4-1), which advanced to face sixth-seeded Melrose (13-4-2) on the road at 6 p.m. Thursday.

The Warriors’ only blemish against Billerica came late in the first half when they allowed a penalty kick goal that put the Indians on the board.

“That gave them a little momentum to start the second half, but we really defended well in the second half when we had to,” McCully said. “Overall, it was a good test for us and the boys really responded well.”

McCully said he scouted Melrose during its 4-0 first-round victory over Chicopee on Sunday.

“They are a very talented team,” the Nauset coach said. “This is going to be a tough opponent. I think they’re certainly better than Billerica and that’s what we’re training for now.”

Nauset captain Nate Watring said the team is expecting Melrose to provide a tough — albeit manageable — test.

“They’re good-sized and strong in the midfield, but I think if we play our game we should be good,” said Watring, a senior from Yarmouth.

Watring and McCully both noted that the Warriors are preparing for a close game. After last year’s season ended with a 4-3 loss to East Longmeadow in penalty kicks, Nauset understands the likelihood of tournament games being decided by a goal, often in overtime or penalty kicks.

“We practice our penalty kicks every day,” McCully said. “We’re prepared for it. We have a routine and we know who our top guys are. We’re just doing all the little things to prepare for what could potentially happen.”

Watring admitted that it can be nerve-wracking knowing that every touch matters during the postseason, but the senior added that the Warriors are “always prepared.”

McCully is hopeful that maintaining the same focus since preseason training sessions will pay dividends now when the stakes are the highest.

“It starts right in training,” the coach said. “Everything matters that we do during training. Your pass, your touch, your shots, how you defend, how you clear — everything starts in training and everything matters now. We just hope it carries over into our games and we play our best soccer.”

Email Brad Joyal at Twitter: @BradJoyal