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Boys' soccer preview

Medford has skill, determination

The Medford players, led by coach Michael Petrides (above), have state title hopes this season. The Medford players, led by coach Michael Petrides (above), have state title hopes this season. (Aram Boghosian/For The Globe)
By Craig Forde
Globe Correspondent / September 11, 2011

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If the Medford boys’ soccer players can stand behind their coach on the field as much as they have off it, there may be no stopping them this season.

The Mustangs bonded during the offseason in a successful effort to save the job of coach Michael Petrides, who inexplicably wasn’t rehired back in April after 11 seasons on the job.

EMass All-Star striker John Dumboya and junior cocaptain Jonathan Pires look to lead Medford to a big season, with aspirations of a run at a state title.

“The goal is to go further than last year,’’ said Petrides, whose Mustangs lost to Greater Boston League rival Somerville in the Division 1 quarterfinals last season. “These kids have a bitter taste in their mouth from that loss.’’

Medford finished 14-3-5 last fall after not making the tournament in 2009.

Lincoln-Sudbury lost 12 seniors, including Globe Division 1 Player of the Year Cole DeNormandie, but the Warriors return some solid leaders in cocaptains Chris Kafina, Forest Sisk, Jacob Weltman, and Matt Birtwell.

“We’ll have to rely on more players to contribute,’’ said L-S coach Dave Hosford. “People will be ready for us and will want payback at times. We will need to make sure our guys are ready to go.’’

Lexington should again contend for the Middlesex League title in the face of some major losses. All-New England defender Thomas Ballenthin and EMass All-Star midfielder Jordan Vanderhooft are gone, but the return of Gavin Lewis at midfield should help the transition.

The Bay State League will be led by Brookline, Weymouth, and Newton North.

Newton North, the 19th seed in last year’s tournament, ended up winning the North title, proof that Bay State teams rarely enter the tournament with impressive records but are always a postseason threat.

“We have to be able to play all 22 of our guys,’’ said Weymouth coach Bill McEachern. “Depth is so important, especially in a league as tough as ours.’’

South champion New Bedford, which lost in the Division 1 state final, also lost numerous talented players to graduation. Big Three foe Brockton is in a similar predicament, but both should rebound quickly given their talent levels.

Division 2 Fifteen seniors return to Sandwich, which lost its only game of the season on penalty kicks in the South sectional final last season.

The returning class includes four Atlantic Coast League All-Stars; keeper Kyle Van Cleef, defenseman Sam Sholi, midfielder Peter Alvarenga, and forward Dallas Donovan.

“Alvarenga and Donovan provide a 1-2 combo the likes of which Sandwich has never seen,’’ said coach Ted Tedeschi. “They’ve been with us for four years now and they play so well together.’’

Of course, all roads in Div. 2 go through Concord-Carlisle, winners of back-to-back state titles. Mike O’Brien, Chris Wallace, and Stowe Simington are geared up for the challenge of replacing 14 players lost from last year’s squad.

“These kids are used to playing with pressure,’’ said coach Ray Pavlik. “Fortunately we have experience with it and our guys are quick and technically sound.’’

Canton once again will be in the mix. The Hockomock League champs lost a lot of the firepower that produced an average of 2.6 goals per game last year, but coach Danny Erickson is confident that his defense, led by senior Scott Levy, is one of the best out there.

Winchester lost coach Paul Austin, now the girls’ coach in Arlington. The Sachems also lost EMass All-Stars Benjamin Bratt and Ryan Connolly, but forward Conor Calnan and midfielder Marc Greenblatt will provide leadership for new coach Fazbin Vatan.

Dave Mitchell will be replacing coaching legend Lenny Emmons at Masconomet but is sure to keep the winning tradition alive for the Chieftains.

Division 3 Defending champ Dover-Sherborn returns stopper Sam Hunter, sweeper Ben Newbert, and keeper Brian Hands, all Tri-Valley League All-Stars last season.

The Raiders only lost four players from last year’s title run and look primed to repeat the feat.

“We try to stay humble,’’ said D-S coach John Grusek. “We want to let our play on the field demonstrate what we can do.’’

Cardinal Spellman returns Catholic Central All-Stars Ryan Walsh, Chris Conrad, Nick Keddie, and Taylor Witherbee from a team that only suffered two defeats last season.

Rockport will be looking to replace Globe Division 3 Player of the Year Keady Segal in net, and currently junior Eric Littlefield holds the edge in a three-man battle. Twins A.J. and C.J. Burnham will provide senior leadership.

The graduation of EMass leading scorer and league co-MVP Kevin McAdam (22 goals, 12 assists) should slow Trinity Catholic’s pursuit of another Catholic Central Small title.