The 2020 Fall 1 athletic season was certainly an unprecedented one for every team that participated, thanks to the amendments to game play and the pandemic in general. One thing that remained the same, though, was that every squad that played wanted to compete hard, have fun and show improvements. In Sandwich, coach Chris Giustina’s junior varsity boys’ soccer team was able to come through on all fronts this past fall.
The JV Knights posted a competitive 4-5-1 record for the season. The improvements, coach Giustina said, were evident in how the team played during the second half of the season. Early in the year it was downed by Barnstable by a 3-0 score. The second time around it was Sandwich that scored a victory, taking a 2-0 game in the rematch. The coach said his team’s game against Nauset, the measuring stick in the Cape and Islands League, was very competitive. Against Falmouth they lost one and earned a tie. No matter the outcome, SHS had a chance every time out.
“Everybody exceeded more than I expected. The players adapted to every situation that was thrown at them,” he said. “Everyone was versatile and able to keep up the intensity all year. The drive they showed was great.”
In goal the Knights had two strong players get the job done. Freshman Sullivan Gaffney and junior Kevin Griffin handled the position for the Blue Knights. Gaffney saw the bulk of the action and had a great year. “He came up with some incredible saves and put a lot of pressure on himself to make the saves,” the coach said.
Griffin served as the backup in goal, and also played for the team as a forward. Giustina said Griffin played more as a forward and that he was a key player up front.
The defense for the junior varsity Knights was rife with talent and will be feeding the varsity for the future with some players who know how to handle their business. Freshman Jake Whelan, 8th grader Ben DiGiacomo, 8th grader Quinn Johnston, 8th grader Andrew Morrison-Sheppard and 8th grader Tom Sutton all drew praise from their coach for their hard work and excellent efforts on the back end. Johnston, who played several spots, was lauded for taking on each job and running with it effectively.
“We kept the ball out of the net and defended well,” coach Giustina said. “They were the core group that kept us in games.”
The midfield was loaded for the Knights, with 10 players working there. Sophomore Silas Ohmen was the team’s visionary in the midfield, finding his teammates all over the place. The freshman class was represented by Adam and Ross Klaiber, Owen Woodard, Sean Murphy, Chase Collentro, Owen Jones, Jack Schultz and Casey Woodill. The 8th graders playing there were Will Lodge and Ben Seeley.
The Klaiber brothers each saw a lot of time on the field. “They were pieces in the midfield that kept everyone together. They did everything I told them to do,” Giustina said. Woodill was strong both offensively and defensively, his coach said. Murphy was a Swiss Army knife, usable in any spot that the coach needed. The rest of the midfielders were shouted out by their coach for overall effort and willingness to take coaching and work with it and then employ it on the field of play.
Up front, several players made key contributions for the JV Knights. Sophomore Nicholas Amsel was “a workhorse” on the front line for the Knights. Also earning high praise for playing hard when on the field on the front line was Griffin, who was also a keeper.
Chris Cardillo, a freshman, was a high-motor player for the Knights and coach Giustina said that it was obvious that he drew on his hockey background to excel on the pitch.
Freshmen Jack Connolly and Camden Murphy both showed potential. Eighth grader Maadeh Biruk had a strong showing on offense for the Knights. His coach said that Biruk was very strong playing with his back to the net, finding ways to spin and turn toward it to make things happen.
Overall, coach Giustina said that he could not help but be hopeful that the future of Sandwich High boys soccer is very positive.
“In my eyes, it’s looking strong. We have a good core of younger guys,” he said. “(Varsity head coach) Alfredo (Alvarenga) has a good young crew to work with and I think that’s really with development (for the future).”