Roxbury soccer coach feeling optimistic in spite of many changes to team
By John Bernhardt
Tom Faraci was pleased with what he saw from his Roxbury soccer team in their non-league home opener Friday afternoon. The Rockets hosted Milford, an annual Tri-Valley League contender with some highly regarded returning stars. A gritty, scrappy effort had Roxbury within striking distance for most of the game before dropping a hard fought, 3-1, decision to the Wildcats.
The preseason offers Faraci and his Rockets an opportunity to find a soccer identity. With several new faces and many guys switching assignments and taking on new roles, Roxbury is a team in transition, a gritty gang their coach believes can make some noise this fall.
The changes begin in the goal. Last year’s tender, junior Will Rendler, has moved forward to shoulder the role of sweeper. Sophomore Jacob Davies has taken over duties tending the goal. Davies proved assertive and fearless in the opener.
As for Rendler, the tall defender (6’1”) teamed with an even taller Matt Faraci (6’3”) who plays outside defensive back, to give the Rockets two athletic defenders able to play the ball out of the air. Faraci, too, is playing defense for the first time.
Senior Issac Cline is getting his first taste at center defense as the stopper. An aggressive defender, Faraci expects Cline to anchor his defensive scheme.
Junior Ethan McDaniel and sophomore Beau O’Donnell will bolster the defense as outside defenders. O’Donnell is left-footed and saw some time as a defensive back on the left side of the field as a freshman, and McDaniel is returning to RCS after a one-year stint away from the district. The Roxbury coach hopes to use a three-man rotation of Faraci, O’Donnell, and McDaniel to cover the two outside defensive slots. Junior James Manon provides added depth for the defense.
Seniors Josh Riley and Joe McAfee lead a cadre of rugged defenders manning the midfield. “Josh and Joe came to camp in unbelievable shape. A first-class work effort and can-do approach to playing the game provide strong leadership potential. Faraci uses Riley as a defensive center-mid with junior Chris Clark and offensive midfielder from the same area of the field. Clark scored Roxbury’s lone goal in the home opener.
McAfee mans one outside midfield slot. Competition is fierce between several Rockets for the spot on the opposite side of the field with several players expected to audition at that slot and provide valued depth in the midfield. Freshman Frankie Morales started Friday’s opener as an outside midfielder, but senior. Tristian Mulder, juniors Kyle Faraci, Josh Paes, and Danny Ballard, and sophomore Zac Caronia will all see time at an outside midfield spot.
Faraci is looking to a tandem of Kris Walcutt and Charlie Dietrich to score on his two-man forward line. Fast and daring, Walcutt was a big part of the Rockets’ scoring attack
Last season, Dietrich, one of the most skilled players on the roster, returned to Roxbury after two years out of the district for his senior year.
Learning new roles
The Roxbury forwards are in the process of developing the synergy Faraci hopes will create that creative force where two teammates generate offense by almost anticipating each other’s moves.
Two sophomores, Petru Spariousu and Darian Scudder, and freshman David Chairvolotti are all playing varsity soccer for the first time. Faraci sees Chairvolotti working for time on the forward line and Spariousu and Scudder learning the craft as defenders.
Hustle and grit are starting points for the Roxbury squad. “You can always stay in a soccer game if you work hard,” explained Faraci. “We’ll play hard, we’ll defend, we’ll pursue the ball assertively, and I think we’ll find an offensive mentality,” predicted the Roxbury coach.