SPORTS PREVIEW: Boys soccer shapes up for another solid year

The 2023 regular season is less than a week away for the Marblehead High boys soccer team after a couple of weeks of intense scrimmages that will conclude on Saturday, Sept. 2, against Rockport at Piper Field beginning at 10 a.m. Just three days later (Tuesday, Sept. 5, at 4 p.m.), they will be taking on visiting Tewksbury in the season opener.

Marblehead boys soccer captain Jack Burke is shown on the attack during a game against Salem last fall. COURTESY PHOTOS

After a solid 2022 regular season that ended with an all-too-brief state tournament run, the Marblehead boys have tremendous optimism for the upcoming campaign.

Led by head coach Elmer Magana and assistant Tom Roundy, the varsity squad returns over 15 players, including several skilled seniors, plus a deep junior class and considerable talent among the sophomores and freshmen. They will have to find a way to overcome the losses of last year’s graduating seniors Isiah Pina, Sebastian Panzer, Mason Lohan and Harrison Curtis, but their skill, determination and chemistry to build upon last year’s success is a good place to start.

In 2022, the Magicians brought a relentless, physical defensive front to the pitch, plus an attack that created opportunities when they needed them the most.

Eastern Massachusetts all-star goaltender Rory Zampese set the tone for the defense, which included Riley Schmitt, Colin White, Quinn Fletcher, T.J. Kelly and Oliver Murtagh. Together, they finished up with nine clean shutout sheets. They gave up only 28 goals in 18 games, a testament to their smart play that kept the opposition from setting up in the middle of the field. They also had the knack of forcing them into mistakes.

At midfield, the Magicians displayed another one of their strengths with the likes of Jack Burke, Marc Grazado, Luke Miller and Matthew Sherf utilizing their outside speed to spread the field and open up the seams for the offense.

Centers Kyle Hart, Miles Tuttle and London McDonald brought an intensity that will be needed again this year.

The team’s finest moments arrived when they used quick ball movement and creative attacking runs to keep opponents off balance. Up top, there’s Stefan Shepherd, who will fortify an offense in need of increased scoring chances against formidable divisional foes.

Midfielder Luke Miller, left, celebrates a goal with defensive back Colin White during the Manchester Essex game last fall.

The Magicians have the versatility and talent to adjust accordingly to the flow of the game, and so it would not be surprising to see players rotating all around the field during individual games this fall.

The Magicians, who compiled a 9-6-3 regular season record in 2022 to end up fourth in the

Northeastern Conference North Division, will face conference rivals Peabody, Beverly, Danvers,

Swampscott and Salem once again. Melrose, Gloucester, Andover, Masco and North Andover will also be formidable challengers on the schedule.

Magana is entering his fourth season along the sidelines, and is once again supported by assistant coach Roundy. The JV1 squad is led by returning coach Justin Greenwood, and newcomer Joe Hunt will be in charge of the JV2 team.

With over 60 boys in the program this year, there is plenty of depth to maintain success. They hope to set the tone early on in the season. Captains Burke, Schmidt and Zampese will keep the team focused.

“We have a tough schedule this year, but Coach Magana will have our team up for the challenge,” said Burke. “With a solid core of returnees to go along with the team’s experienced leadership, we will surprise some teams. We’re really looking forward to a great season.”

Troy Miller’s son, Luke, is on the team.

Troy Miller
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