Ethan Czaporowski adds new dimension to Belchertown boys soccer

  • Ethan Czaporowski, left, of Belchertown, moves the ball against Nicholas Kirby, of Blackstone Valley Tech, during the state Division 4 semifinal, Tuesday at Grafton High School. Czaporowski, a freshman, has added a new dimension to the Orioles’ attack this season. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Belchertown freshman Ethan Czaporowski, center, knocks away a ball being settled by John Skavlem of Mount Greylock in the second half of the Orioles' 2-1 Western Massachusetts Div. 3 championship win over the Mounties at Springfield Central High School on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. Belchertown's Nathan Schiffer is at left. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 11/22/2019 7:06:47 PM

BELCHERTOWN — Nine times out of 10, Ethan Czaporowski follows the system.

Belchertown’s freshman striker receives the ball, holds play, draws defenders and finds approaching attackers in space. The 10th, though, he freestyles. Czaporowski possesses the speed and skill to take on defenders and beat them to create a shot. Sometimes he conjures magnificence to score. He leads the Orioles with 20 goals and 14 assists – a modern-era record. Belchertown used to play an easier schedule and rack up goals, but Czaporowski has put away more goals than any Oriole since they started playing their current level of competition.

“It makes things really interesting, especially being further back on the field when you see him get the ball and he turns and he knows he has space,” Belchertown senior defender Owen Raines said. “It can be fun to watch.”

But sometimes he gets overzealous and loses the ball before Belchertown can build its attack.

“I look at the (freestyling) as an occupational hazard at that point. He’s going to create and do so much for us offensively that I can’t harp on him doing something I’m not particularly fond of one time out of 10,” Belchertown coach Zach Siano said. “To be honest, a lot of those times he’s doing things I don’t want him to he’s still creating, just not in the capacity I’m looking for it to happen. It’s never a big time negative effect on us, it’s just something that he has in him, such a nose for the goal and I can’t fault him for sometimes just getting up and going.”

The blend is what’s made Czaporowski so impactful in Belchertown’s run to Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. state final against Medway at Worcester’s Foley Stadium. He balances running the system and picking his spots to dazzle individually.

“He’s so calculated in everything he does. He’s so fundamentally sound, he’s a kid who’s got a great head on his shoulders,” Siano said. “He’s one of the most coachable kids I’ve ever had here.”

Before the season, Siano thought he would play senior Zach Lajeunesse up top. Inserting Czaporowski into the starting lineup from Game 1 allowed Lajeunesse to play further back in the No. 10 role and face the goal rather than playing with his back to it at striker.

“It makes my life easier passing him the ball,” Lajeunesse said. “He can receive anything, it’s amazing.”

Czaporowski initially wasn’t sure he would suit up for the Orioles. He thought he would play for a team like Oakwood Soccer Club or the Revolution Academy, but decided instead to represent Belchertown.

“I wanted to play my first year in high school and see how I liked it. It turned out pretty good,” Czaporowski said. “I wanted to play for my town, win us something.”

Czaporowski generated buzz before he even tried out in August. Siano watched him play on a club team in the spring and was impressed, but those games were against players his own age.

“It was like ‘how is this kid going to handle the physicality, the speed, etc. of high school soccer,’” Siano said.

He kept watching in the summer when Czaporowski faced a broader age range and Siano realized he could be a starter or big-time rotation piece. Czaporowski cemented his spot in the preseason. Belchertown played in a preseason playday hosted by Hopkins Academy, and Czaporowski consistently looked like one of the most dangerous players – if not the most dangerous – player on the field.

“Ethan allows us to be that more flexible with our defense, with our offense, with our midfield,” Siano said. “He makes everything easier for us with his speed, tenacity and his overall nose for the goal.”

The responsibility would overwhelm some freshmen. He’s the outlet for the midfield and controls how Belchertown’s offense progresses in the field’s final third.

“It’s a lot of pressure on me, but I think I’ve been taking it pretty well, I just need to keep working hard,” Czaporowski.

None of Belchertown’s captains or Siano were worried about him handling the responsibility.

“I think his stats say the most,” Lajeunesse said. “We give him the ball and he goes.”

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

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