The Whalers boys soccer team is in a rebuilding year after losing many key seniors last year, with as many as five starters graduating last June. With another year and a 14th league title under their belts, Coach Rich Brannigan looks to lead the boys soccer team into yet another deep playoff run. With preseason starting on August 23rd, the team has had plenty of time to find its shape and identity. Speaking on preseason, junior defender Charlie Clarke said, “We have had to adjust to fill the roles of the seniors who graduated last year and have pulled up a lot of younger players who have done very well since the start of the season. We should have a good regular season with more competition in our division now that the Vineyard is in it, and hopefully that helps us make a deep playoff run.”
On the Varsity roster, there are many familiar names, such as captain Emmet Clarke, Mario Reyes, and Leshawn Goldson. Coach Brannigan has also introduced a few new players, a few among them being Jordan Beckford, David Lemus, and Luke Mckay. Having finished 16-3-2 last year, the Whalers are hoping to improve upon that record and win the South Sectional final for the first time in school history.
The Varsity team started preseason off with a hard-fought 2-2 draw against Barnstable. Senior captain Emmet Clarke was optimistic about the result, saying, “It was a good test early on and it allowed us to see our weaknesses so we could work on them. We gave away two goals cheaply, so we have been putting in extra time in practice to work on that aspect of the game.”
In the Cape and Islands League, Nantucket is off to a strong start. Their first regular-season challenge was away against Monomoy on the fifth of September. Goals from Jordan Beckford, Leshawn Goldson, Chris Amaya, and a brace from Mario Reyes that included an incredible bicycle kick helped Nantucket seal a 5-0 win. In their second game, the boys faced off against Rising Tide. The three first-half goals from Mario Reyes, Charlie Clarke, and a Chris Amaya penalty were enough to take home the win.
The boys put on a show for their first two home games of the season. Against Saint John Paul ll, the whalers were firing on all cylinders, outclassing the lions with an 11-1 victory. Highlights from that game included four goals from Jordan Beckford, as well as Varsity debuts and goals for Rushawn Leamy and David Lemus. More of the same followed when the Whalers faced Falmouth Academy on the 13th of September, cruising to a 7-0 win to seal off a perfect record for the first four games of the season.
The Whalers will head back on the road Tuesday, September 20th, in a game against league opponents Sturgis West, and will fight hard to get revenge for the 3-2 loss suffered at the hands of the Navigators last year. The Boys will spend some time on the road, with their next five games being away matches. The highlight of this run is undoubtedly on the 29th of September when the team heads to Martha’s Vineyard for their annual rivalry game, with the return game scheduled to be on the 6th of October.
By Christopher Amaya