Somerville High Fall 2011 Preview: Boys and Girls Soccer

(written and photographed for Somerville Patch)

With the first day of school fast approaching, Somerville Patch will be previewing all eight fall sports programs at Somerville High School. Unsure how the Highlanders did in 2010? Want to know who might impact the upcoming season? Just want to know when the first game is? Read on and find out.

Boys Soccer

The 2011 SHS boys soccer team will look to repeat or improve on their MIAA North Div. 1 semifinal loss to Brookline in 2010.

2010 Record: 9-7-2 overall, 2-4-2 in the Greater Boston League.

The 2010 boys soccer team qualified for the MIAA postseason tournament, advancing all the way to the North Division 1 semi-finals against Brookline, where they lost 2-1 on penalty kicks.

“We had some chances and some disappointments,” coach George Scarpelli said of that game after practice on Sept. 1. “I think they had one shot in the second half, Brookline, and they scored on it.”

More than their postseason success, however, Scarpelli said he was happiest with what happened after.

“Out of the 14 seniors, all 14 have gone off to college, and eight will be playing in college,” Scarpelli said. “For us, that’s our No. 1 goal.”

The Highlanders’ .250 GBL winning percentage in 2010 was due to how tough a soccer league the GBL is in Massachusetts.

“We’re going to top-heavy again this year,” Scarpelli said. “We’re pretty strong but young. Medford is going to be very good, probably a top-five team in the state, as well as Cambridge. … Playing against each other twice a year gets us prepared for the tournament.”

First 2011 game: Wednesday 9/7 at Salem, 4:00 p.m.,

Home Opener: Wednesday 9/14 vs. Malden at Dilboy Stadium, 4:00 p.m.

Players to watch: Richard Rodriguez, senior captain and goalie.

“He’s had to sit back and watch some pretty good goalies play in front of him,” Scarpelli said. “I think this is his time to shine. He’s probably going to be the biggest key in the back.”

Thayrone Miranda, sophomore attacker; scored 15 goals as a freshman in 2010

“Thayrone creates so much space with his footwork,” Scarpelli. “He’s very good in small areas, and he’s a pure finisher.”

Key to the season: Quick development of younger players.

“We have probably the best freshman class I’ve ever seen in 22 years of coaching,” Scarpelli said, adding: “The biggest key is going to be not just the discipline but the learning curve and watching these kids mature and understand the system.”

Girls Soccer

Coach Jason Lenicheck will try to lead the 2011 SHS girls soccer team to a better MIAA postseason performance than their opening-round loss to Winchester in 2010.

2010 Record: 6-8-5 overall, 3-2-3 in the GBL

The 2010 girls soccer team qualified for their third consecutive MIAA postseason tournament, losing in the opening round to Winchester, 6-0.

“We had a ton of seniors,” coach Jason Lenicheck said of last season after a Sept. 2 practice. “Whether or not they were experienced, whether or not they had been playing soccer with the team or elsewhere, [there was] just good leadership.”

Much of that leadership may have left the team with the 12 varsity seniors who graduated in 2011, leaving a vacancy for the new upperclassmen to step into.

“I don’t know how much leadership is learned by watching it, but I suppose we’ll wind up finding out,” Lenicheck said. “I do think that some of the kids just have a natural ability to … bring people together.”

First 2011 game and Home Opener: Friday 9/9 vs. Medford at Dilboy Stadium, 6:00 p.m.

Players to watch: Natalie Henrique, junior captain and attacker; scored 17 goals in 2010.

“Natalie has tremendous touch on the ball,” Lenicheck said. “Just tremendous touch on the ball, and she’s essentially equally gifted with either foot. … She’s got tremendous technique. She’s got a very good, quick burst of speed.”

Kellie Hagerty, sophomore captain and defender

“Kellie’s defensive intensity is really what brings her her defensive skills,” Lenicheck said. “She’s very focused, very disciplined. She communicates well with the people around her. … Being able to see a field and see angles and see where a play is developing comes very easily to her.”

Key to the season: The ability of the Highlanders’ projected starting four attackers – Henrique and sophomores Rachael Berry, Shianne Harrington and Ella Tyler – to play in multiple positions.

“If the central forward position, if that player winds up fading out toward the side of the field, dragging one of their central defenders with them, that’s going to open a spot in the center-forward spot,” Lenicheck said. “If any of the other players of the attackers for our team are comfortable playing there, they can just step right into that open gap, and they’ll be comfortable performing in a spot against a defender who’s probably not comfortable.”