Another Fall Sports Season Is Under Way; Coaches Hope to Repeat Tournament Runs

By ALEXIS TONTI

The sapping humidity that plagued the Island for much of August washed away with last week's heavy rain. Friday broke clear and crisp for the home opener of the high school fall sports season. Four minutes into the soccer game that afternoon, striker Lucas Brewer found the net, all the boys' varsity team needed in their 1-0 victory over Sandwich.

Most of the high school teams began their seasons over the weekend and early this week. Many are looking to repeat tournament runs of last fall, though at this time of year most coaches are assessing the early season kinks they'll have to work through to get there.

The boys' soccer team also drew a 1-1 tie against Old Rochester at home Saturday morning, and played again yesterday against Dennis-Yarmouth. Wednesday they will face Chatham at home.

Last year the varsity lost to Duxbury in the second round of the state tournament. Coach Bob Hammond said this year's team has nine returning seniors, 13 juniors and two underclassmen. For now the division II team is relying heavily on the defense, in particular senior Russell Hodson, who has been the varsity goalie for four years. "He should be able to keep us in a lot of games," said Mr. Hammond.

"It will take a while for the offense to gel, but we expect them to get better and better throughout the season," he said. "The game we're playing now is something completely different than what we'll be playing at the end."

He said the most pressing concern is the health of the team. Three of the seniors are injured and unable to play, including Brewer, who developed a swollen knee after Friday's game. Coach Hammond named Jamie Green and Eric Soikkeli as other key players he wants to see back in the mix.

He added: "There's also a lot of blisters, slight pulls and strained muscles from early season work. A lot of times people can't finish. Our season record will hinge on our overall health."

The field hockey team opened at home yesterday against Dennis-Yarmouth, a strong division I team. The varsity will meet nine division I teams before the 18-game season is over, a tough schedule and a challenge the girls are looking forward to.

"We're young with a lot of energy and enthusiasm," said coach Lisa Knight. "I never say we're having a ‘rebuilding year,' because you never know what will happen: Each year is a whole new ball game."

She said the team has strong senior leadership, with goalie Becky Fischbeck, forward Amanda Klein and defensive back Nikki Joubert serving as captains.

Last year the varsity advanced to the south sectional semifinals of the state tournament before falling to Medfield. They will need to win half their games to qualify again this year. "But I don't really care what the scoreboard says, as long as the girls give me everything they possibly can," said Ms. Knight. "If we are slacking or not playing to our potential, then even if we win it doesn't mean as much."

She said they're looking forward to the Harwich game at home next Wednesday, probably the team's strongest rivalry.

The golf team hosted its first home match at Farm Neck yesterday against Sandwich. It was the second time they faced the division I team this year, and their second loss at 255-277. Last week the Vineyarders won two matches off-Island, at Harwich and Chatham.

Coach Doug Debettencourt said they play a strong schedule. "The Cape teams are arguably the best in the state, because the weather is so much better."

He added: "If I can go out on a limb, I'd be disappointed if we don't finish in the top five in the state for division II." Of the 10 players on varsity, eight are returning seniors.

Varsity football opens at home against Carver this Friday. The two teams have not met in the regular season since 1991, a game Carver won 6-0 in the only loss for the Vineyarders that year.

Last fall the varsity finished the season with a 9-2 record. Their loss to Nantucket in the 25th annual Island Cup stopped the team short of post-season play. "We're looking to get right back on that train," coach Don Herman said of the coming season, tournament play and the ultimate championship goal.

He added: "We're a little beat up right now. We finished preseason with a scrimmage at Southshore, and now we have a couple of kids who are doubtful for the weekend."

The varsity is working on a new offense, with senior quarterback Hans Buder at the helm. "He's going to cause some damage with his feet; he gives the defense an extra dimension they have to worry about," said Coach Herman.

They have moved away from the no-huddle offense and are featuring more of a running game that is dependent on power. He added that kicking will be an advantage with E.J. Sylvia. "Any time we get inside the 20-yard line, we're in range for a field goal," Mr. Herman said.

"We are light on varsity experience, but we are physically bigger," the coach said. "We are very liable to experience some growing pains. Our first few games are against some very good football teams. But the only way they're going to improve is to get thrown in the fire."

The boys' and girls' cross country runners defeated Norfolk County at home on Saturday. Their next meet is set for today at Old Rochester. Coach Joe Schroeder could not be reached at deadline.

The varsity girls' soccer team lost 5-1 Saturday afternoon to Silver Lake. They were off-Island yesterday for a game against Dennis-Yarmouth, and will travel to Chatham for a game Wednesday. Coach Russell MacDonald could not be reached at deadline.