You may be wondering just why in the world Mashpee High School boys’ soccer coach Ed Furtek is looking forward to the 2019 season as much as he is. Most coaches would bemoan the fact that they lost 14 contributors, and 12 seniors, from a team that had one of the best regular seasons in Mashpee High history. The 12-3-2 squad was a favorite to make a run in the Division 4 south region before a shocking shootout loss in the first round to Holliston.
It really seemed like last year’s team had the best shot for Mashpee to get to the promised land. Furtek should be kicking himself, right?
The fact that the longtime head coach for the Falcons is a profoundly positive human being certainly plays a part in his upbeat outlook for 2019. It goes deeper than that, though, because Furtek knows something that the rest of the South Shore League is sure to learn over the next few weeks.
“There’s a lot of talent here,” he said. “It’s pretty much a new team, and a new day. There’s a lot of talent here, and it’s up to the coach to sort it out and figure out the right combinations and how everything fits together.”
While Furtek’s team may have just one-third of the roster returning, he believes that a good portion of the players who were on the JV a year ago probably could have owned spots at the varsity level if the team had had room for them then. In the long run, though, the seasoning at the junior varsity level will most likely benefit the team going forward, starting with this fall.
While there may not be a lot of seniors on the roster, there are a few who will be big contributors, starting with senior captain Dylan Barger. The four-year veteran of the Falcons will handle duties in the back end of the field and should be instrumental in keeping things clean in front of the Mashpee net. Coach Furtek said that he tasked Barger with improving his direct kick skills over the summertime, needing a replacement for that job.
“In the first scrimmage, he stepped up and put one right in,” Furtek said with a laugh. “He’s obviously been working hard at it.”
Barger is like “another coach on the field,” Furtek said. A strong ball distributor, he will be a key cog in the defensive midfield.
One of the team’s other three captains is senior Nick Perrone, who will be a constant in the midfield. Perrone has been like a strong tech stock throughout his career, moving upward steadily with his play.
The last captain in the Mashpee triumvirate is a junior, forward Gabe Palhais. One of the top scorers on the team, Palhais’s speed and nifty moves allow him to be a force for the Falcons in the midfield and up front. His attitude is also important.
“He’s just a fiery kid,” Furtek said. “He gets us psyched up on the field and he gives us everything that he’s got.”
Also in the midfield is junior Gabe Tellez, another player who saw significant minutes a year ago. Tellez quietly put up the third-most points on the team a year ago. A strong ball distributor, Tellez not only gets in on the action, but helps to push it.
Junior Ben Kennedy has impressed Furtek through his work ethic. The middie has gotten bigger, stronger and faster, but most importantly has become more skillful through hard work. “He just has gotten better as the years have gone on,” the coach said.
After playing three years on the JV, Aiden Smith was on the varsity for the first time as a junior last year. As a senior he’ll be counted upon to be a solid contributor to the club. “He’s shown steady growth over the years,” Furtek said.
Sophomore Nick Almeida came off the bench in the playoffs for the Falcons in the state tournament game and was the only one on the team to sink one of the shootout goals that they were allotted. Another player who has grown in his game, Almeida rounds out the returning players.
Under coach Joe Lombardi, the JV team has been good for some time, and several players from last year’s team will make impacts.
At the top of that list is junior defender Willie Baker. The athletic Baker was late to the game of soccer, but has grown to not only love it, but to be good at it. “He’s just a sponge,” Furtek said. “He’s learned so much already.”
Nathan Ware showed a lot at the summer league during the break and is looking to make the jump for the Falcons. “This summer I started to call him ‘Every,’ because he’s just everywhere. He’s a distributor, he’s fearless and he wants the ball.”
Sophomore Ryan Lima will slot in at a defender spot for the Falcons. Senior Ben Olson is sliding back from forward to center back and should see time. Sophomore Luke Olson will be the team’s starting goaltender this year after a great campaign for the JV team a year ago.
Nathan Perry, a junior, and seniors Matt Pinto, CJ Cliff and Deshaun Adler are all vying for time as well.
New to the program is freshman Gabriel Perreira, who could be an instant impact player. Perreira moves to Mashpee from Brazil and has all of the skills one would associate with a South American soccer player. “This kid can play. He knows what to do with the ball,” Furtek said of the transfer student.
Kyle Soares, Peter DeFrancesco, Josh Crawford and Otis Longman are all vying for spots for the Falcons as well.