Gazette Boys Soccer Player of the Year: Belchertown’s Alex DeSantis

Last modified: Friday, February 07, 2014
Going into his senior season, Belchertown boys soccer star Alex DeSantis had been a part of two straight Western Massachusetts championship teams, but had also experienced a pair of state semifinal defeats.

DeSantis and his eight classmates made certain the same fate would not befall the Orioles again in 2013.

“Ever since my sophomore year my goal and the team’s goal was to win states,” DeSantis said. “So it’s great for the program and especially for the seniors to finish that off. We were an extremely tight team, all great friends.”

The outside midfielder led Belchertown on the scoreboard as well as on the field, leading to his being named the Gazette Boys Soccer Player of the Year.

“From freshman year through senior year, Alex has been a total team player,” coach Tony Almeida said. “All the guys love him because he has such a great attitude toward the team and the game. He’s a kid any coach would love to have. Alex never asked the other players to do anything more than what he would do himself, which is the mark of a great leader.”

Facing Nipmuc Regional in the state semifinal contest, DeSantis proved to be the driving force behind the Orioles’ 5-1 victory with three goals and an assist.

“I remember our whole team being pumped up for that particular game,” DeSantis said. “There was no way we were going to lose a third straight state semifinal. Everyone came out ready to go and we all played great.”

Belchertown went on to defeat Medway 2-1 in overtime on Nov. 16 for the program’s first state title.

“It’s been a couple months and I feel it’s finally sunk in for us,” he said. “I get that feeling from talking to the other guys and seeing how proud the town is of what we accomplished. It means a ton and I just hope it serves as motivation for following teams to continue the success.”

In addition to securing a berth in the state final, the Nipmuc win provided Belchertown a little extra to complete the mission.

“Being able to leap over that hurdle of the state semifinal gave us that much more confidence going into the final,” he said. “And I think even with everything on the line in the final, we were relaxed.”

DeSantis finished the season with team highs in goals (22) and points (30). He also netted the team’s two tallies in a 2-1 sectional semifinal win over Hampshire.

“He had a terrific season, and he’s been a great talent from day one as a freshman,” Almeida said. “He was really the heart and soul of the team this season. Every time we needed something to win a game, Alex came alive and led the team.”

When asked to respond to Almeida’s “heart and soul” comment, DeSantis said, “That’s huge, I haven’t heard that before. I respect Coach a ton. He’s the best coach I’ve ever played for and I’m really going to miss him. That’s great to hear coming from him.”

As a freshman and sophomore DeSantis played center midfielder, primarily a defensive role.

He excelled at that and showed such a dynamic ability with the ball that Almeida moved him to a primary offensive position.

“It’s wonderful to see how much better he got from year to year,” Almeida said. “Every year I saw a tremendous improvement. Last year he was one of the top players on the team and this year he was the best. Without his talent level, we likely wouldn’t have won the state title.”

DeSantis said UMass and Wheaton College are interested in him as a player, but at this point isn’t leaning toward either school.

The school he decides on will reap the benefit of a supreme talent who benefitted from great coaching.

“My whole career I could see (Almeida) believed in me as a player, which instilled in me so much confidence,” DeSantis said. “That helped me so much throughout my high school career and will as I continue to play.”

Michael Wilkinson can be reached at mwilkinson@gazettenet.com.

First team

Mike Arel, senior, Gateway Regional

Lewis Berger, senior, Belchertown

Jamie Blinder, junior, Frontier Regional

Bryan Brasil, junior, Hampshire Regional

Kevin Brasil, senior, Hampshire Regional

Brendan Bzdel, junior, Hampshire Regional

Marc Chmura, senior, Belchertown

Paul Delamy, senior, Hopkins Academy

Alex DeSantis, senior, Belchertown

Justin Edinger, senior, Gateway Regional

Nate Flachs, senior, South Hadley

Eric Gooden, senior, Amherst Regional

Casey Intrator, sophomore, Northampton

James Izatt, senior, Belchertown

Ryan Lukomski, senior, Holyoke Catholic

Derek McMahon, senior, Smith Academy

Cam Messier, senior, Belchertown

Brennan Mitrolka, senior, Hopkins Academy

Keith Natale, senior, Smith Academy

John O’Hara, senior, Holyoke Catholic

Chad Parent, sophomore, Frontier Regional

Noah Parent, senior, Granby

Ben Pitta, senior, Hopkins Academy

Jack Stinson, senior, Belchertown

Tyler Szymkowicz, senior, Hopkins Academy

Brandon Vazquez, senior, Amherst Regional

Cam Woodward, senior, Smith Academy

Second team

Joe Afflitto, junior, Smith Academy

Timothy BaiRossi, senior, Granby

Isamu Bix, junior, Amherst Regional

Dan Brandt, senior, Easthampton

Jon Brodeur, sophomore, Northampton

Ezra Cole-Cohen, junior, Northampton

Evan Delaney, junior, Hopkins Academy

Hieu Dennis, senior, South Hadley

Keith Dixon, junior, Amherst Regional

Calvin Dowers, senior, Gateway Regional

Curtis Dowers, senior, Gateway Regional

Nick Drost, junior, Belchertown

Connor Hamilton, sophomore, Frontier Regional

John Hannoush, senior, Holyoke Catholic

Adrian Houghton, junior, Amherst Regional

Tom Heavren, junior, Holyoke Catholic

Will Ingram, sophomore, Smith Vocational

Zach Kuhn, senior, Belchertown

Ben Preston, senior, Hampshire Regional

Mike Rock, senior, Amherst Regional

Quinn Rickert, junior, Smith Academy

Yiannis Rizos, senior, Hampshire Regional

Ian Robson, junior, Amherst Regional

Austin Rogers, junior, Smith Academy

Sam Stroman, senior, Belchertown