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Chemistry keeps Easthampton boys soccer team perfect

  • Dylan Schmidt, left, of Easthampton, moves the ball against Noah Aukstikalnis, of Athol, Tuesday at Nonotuck Park in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Tyler Mason, right, of Easthampton, challenges Parker Deleo, of Athol. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Anthony Soucy, left, of Easthampton, moves the ball against Zach Fish, of Athol, Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018 at Nonotuck Park in Easthampton. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Anthony Soucy, second from left, of Easthampton, celebrates his goal against Athol with teammates, Tuesday at Nonotuck Park in Easthampton. The Eagles won 4-0. Visit gazettenet.com for more photos. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Adam Johndrow, center, of Easthampton, passes away from a pair of Athol players, Tuesday at Nonotuck Park in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Henry Ferland, right, of Easthampton, moves the ball against Logan Kirwan, of Athol, Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018 at Nonotuck Park in Easthampton. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Chris Williams, center right, of Easthampton, heads to the goal ahead of a group of Athol defenders, Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018 at Nonotuck Park in Easthampton. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

@kylegrbwsk
Published: 10/3/2018 12:34:33 AM

EASTHAMPTON — The core of Easthampton’s boys soccer team has played together since fifth grade.

The days of Pioneer Valley Junior Soccer League, and all the years and games since sowed the seeds for success in 2018.

“It’s gotta be the chemistry,” senior Joe Brough said. “We’ve all been playing since 9U or 11U, finding each other’s weaknesses, finding each other’s strengths.”

Easthampton stayed perfect in 2018 after a 4-0 win over Athol on Tuesday at Nonnotuck park. The Eagles (8-0, 7-0 Schmid) hadn’t played in eight days before facing the Red Raiders and started sluggishly.

They broke through from a set piece in the 15th minute. Nic Soucy floated a free kick from the right side to the penalty box. Anthony Soucy flicked it backward with his head for a 1-0 lead.

“That first goal was a relief. That’s the big difference between last year and this year,” Easthampton coach Mike Soucy said. “We get that crucial goal, and that gets us going.”

Nic Soucy converted another free kick in the 55th minute. The Eagles earned the attempt just outside the penalty box, and he attacked quickly, shooting low and right past Athol keeper Casey Mason for a 2-0 advantage.

“The wall was a little unorganized, so I had near post,” Nic Soucy said.

The goals piled on quickly after that. Anthony Soucy found a second in the 60th minute after corralling a low centering pass from Mohammed Zabir, taking one touch and shooting low to the right.

“We work like that as a team. Once we put one or two in, we put three or four in,” Nic Soucy said. “We work quick, build up that confidence.”

Chris Williams put a bow on the scoring four minutes later. He ran onto the end of a through ball from Zabir (two assists) before Mason could reach it, lifting it over him for a goal.

With the win all but wrapped up, Mike Soucy pulled most of his starters off the pitch, but he made one thing clear to the substitutes, “keep the clean sheet.”

The Eagles obliged, and senior keeper Drew Caires only had to make one save in the effort.

“We can’t give up soft goals,” Mike Soucy said. “We cover well for each other.”

The clean sheet has become an important point of pride for the Eagles. They’ve only given up one goal this season, a first-half tally against Southwick, the defending Western Massachusetts Division 3 champions.

“We don’t want to get scored on,” Nic Soucy said. “We want to show teams we can score all these goals and not get scored on.”

Easthampton has 37 goals in eight games, among the most in western Massachusetts. The Eagles have scored at least eight in a game three times, including 10 against Renaissance.

“We train that way to keep the pressure on,” Mike Soucy said. “Last year we struggled with putting teams away, we kept games close.”

Easthampton made the postseason last year for the first time since 2010. The team totaled four wins in Mike Soucy’s first year coaching the team and three the year before that.

“They got a little taste last year of being in the playoffs and used that as a lot of motivation,” he said. “We expected them to get here.”

“Here” is one win away from getting back to the postseason. Easthampton plays an 18-game schedule and needs nine wins to ensure a playoff berth. The Eagles may have clinched already had two games not been cancelled in the past week. Their first opportunity is Friday at Granby.

“We want to punch that ticket early,” Nic Soucy said. “We’ve got to prove to everyone else that we can hang and we’re one of the best teams in the area.”

Just making the Division 3 tournament isn’t all the Eagles are after. Easthampton has 15 seniors with eyes on a sectional title.

“Our peak keeps rising at this point,” senior Jacob Bacis said. “This is our year.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.



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