By Michael James LeClair
The Nashoba Regional boys’ soccer team is back out on the pitch and is ready to tackle the 2021 fall campaign. Wolves head coach Matt Davison is back on the Nashoba sidelines for his fifth year at the helm of the program.
On Thursday, Sept. 1, the Wolves welcomed neighboring Leominster High School to the Nashoba Field Turf for a preseason scrimmage. At the conclusion of the team’s contest, Davison took a few minutes to talk about his team’s efforts and the season ahead.
“The talent level in this group is as high as any team I’ve coached here. The talent of the average player is higher and that’s great for us,” said Davison. “These guys are very capable of playing very methodically and purposeful possession soccer.”
As for Thursday’s scrimmage, there were a handful of bright spots that Wolves players, coaches and fans could get excited about.
“Definitely some things we have to work on but there were plenty of positives,” said Davison. “One of the big things I’m looking for in these scrimmages is resiliency from our guys. Leominster is a talented team with a couple of guys that are hard to handle. It’s a good measuring stick for our starters and our bubble players.”
The Wolves are coming off a 2020 season that featured some peaks and valleys. Nashoba finished last year with a 5-5-1 overall record in a COVID-19 abbreviated season. After getting off to a 3-2 start to the season last fall, Nashoba went winless in its next four matches, with 3 losses and 1 tie. But the Wolves ended last year on a positive note, winning their final two matches against Hudson and Marlborough.
“It’s exciting to be back. I’m excited for the kids as well,” said the Wolves head coach. “One of the big adjustments, I think, for the kids in the high school game, will be getting used to being able to play physical again.”
As for this year’s team, the Wolves will carry 22 on their varsity roster, led by senior captains Callan Palmaccio and Dylan Brown. Davison’s lineup will include a total of nine seniors along with four juniors. The roster is also loaded with plenty of young talent with eight sophomores and one freshman.
“Our numbers were down a little this year. The last couple years we averaged like 73 kids trying out and this year we were down to 56 or 57 kids,” said Davison. “We will have two teams this year. Having three is nice but having two teams gives the players something to work for.”
Anchoring the back line will be sophomore goaltender Jamie Fischer. With three total scrimmages on the schedule, Davison and his staff should have a pretty good idea about his squad when it takes to the pitch for Tuesday night’s season opener on the road against Shrewsbury High School.
In addition to Leominster, Nashoba scrimmaged St. John’s of Shrewsbury and the Bromfield School of Harvard.
“Graduation didn’t hurt us but it also didn’t help,” said Davison. “We have a couple kids who didn’t return that were expected to play so we have to make a few adjustments because I had made plans to play a certain way. We will adjust and we’ll be okay.”
According to Davison, there will be several Nashoba players to watch and expect big things from this fall on the pitch. Players like Fischer, freshman midfielder Johnny Dixon, senior forward Ethan Jayne, senior midfielder Mike White and sophomore midfielder Zachary Brown.
“I think as a team, one of the things we’re going to have to really work on is our decision making out of the back,” said Davison. “You can certainly see rise in confidence on that backline when you see Jamie in net and that’s really important.”