For the past two years, Norwood had made a habit out of losing in overtime in the Division 2 South Boys Soccer Tournament. This fall, the Mustangs are hoping to avoid that pattern and move forward. Two years ago, Norwood fell to Norwell in overtime 1-0 after defeating Blue Hills in the first round. Last year, they went to double overtime before falling to Canton 2-1. New coach Jason Andrews is hoping Norwood can turn the corner this fall.
“I think that we can be in the top of the Bay State League,” Andrews said. “I’d like to say we’re going to win it, but realistically we have a lot of work to do before that’ll happen. We should be able to make it into the tournament and cause some trouble once we're in.”
The Mustangs will be led by tri-captains Mark Powers (striker), Ryan Stanton (sweeper) and Sem Dacha (midfielder). Powers, who uses his great speed to get to the ball, and Dacha, a playmaker with his footwork, will be looked upon to shoulder the majority of the Norwood scoring attack. Andrews will also rely on sophomore Cam Ryan to also do some scoring.
“We’re not much of a scoring team, Andrews said. :In the past, Tyler Gonzalez was our primary goal scorer. Norwood never had a strong offensive team in the past. We’ve always had trouble finishing. This year we’re hoping we can change that.”
Norwood plans on opening the season with a 4-4-2 to open the field in hopes of opening up their offense. However, while scoring is a priority in winning, Andrews is relying on his past. Although a first time varsity coach, Andrews has been with the team in terms of the freshman and junior varsity coach the past two seasons, so he knows defense is key.
“Defense is once again going to be our main focus with the ‘No Shot’ motto,” he said. “A lot of the teams in our league think we’re an easy win and don’t take us as a serious soccer program. We’re looking to change that.”
Looking to uphold the No Shot motto defensively will not only be Stanton, the senior captain, but stopper Joe Gareri, right fullback Jesse Fleming and senior left fullback Tim Kent. Danny Farrell and Mike Stavavo will patrol the midfield, while junior Joe Schallmo will be the final line of defense in net. Andrews is thankful that Schallmo decided to come back to the high school team instead of playing in the premier league.
“He’s a very talented athlete that could have gone elsewhere,” Andrews said. “He’ll give up his body for the good of the play. He’s fearless and his ability is going to not only keep us in games, but he’s going to steal some wins as well.”
Other athletes that will see time in the midfield are Joe Vartucca, Ben McGrath, Antonio Varutimos and Tim Buckley. Buckley, considered one of the best runners in the school, worked hard in the off-season to improve his soccer skills.
Making the state tournament is not the big picture this fall; Norwood wants to go deep into the tournament, proving to others that they are a serious soccer program to contend with.