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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
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