Lynn soccer teams tune up for start of season

If Classical High boys soccer coach Joe Skahan is excited about the upcoming season, who can blame him?The Rams just missed qualifying for the state tournament last year, and this year, most of the players from that team are back in the fold. Among the returnees is junior forward Miguel Castro, a forward/midfielder who led the team in the Northeastern Conference in points with 43 (33 goals, 10 assists). Castro was also one of the leading scorers in the state.Joining Castro up front is Carlos Cifuentes, a senior captain who finished with 10 goals.”He and Miguel kind of set each other up,” Skahan said.Skahan is also counting on big things from junior midfielder Christian Lopez and sophomore defender Greg Rybak. Seniors Rafael Rosa at forward and David Lopez on defense also played key roles last year.Skahan said his biggest challenge will be filling the net. He’s not sure who will step into that role yet.”The kids are really excited about this season,” Skahan said, adding the key will be continuing to play as a team and not as individuals.”We have the ability to stand in there with everyone,” Skahan said.The Rams will try to defend their Lynn City Soccer Tournament title once school gets rolling. The tournament begins with the girls on Tuesday, Sept. 2, and the boys on Wednesday, Sept. 3, at Manning Field. The championship and consolation games will be held the following Saturday.”That tournament is all about heart and pride for the city,” Skahan said.ENGLISHThe English boys are off to a good start with six returning starters, including captains Kevin Garduno (striker/midfielder), senior midfielder Eddie Roman and Northeastern Conference All-Star senior sweeper Alex Alvarez. They’ll be joined by returning starters Anthony McCullough, a midfielder; junior midfielder Gabe Smith, who also plays striker; and senior defender Huber Robles.”We’ll have a lot of experience in midfield and at the forward positions,” coach Kerry King said. “But we’ll be inexperienced in the back, with goaltending and defenders.”Despite the holes he has to fill, Kerry is encouraged by what he sees.”We have the potential to be very competitive. It depends on how we develop. We play in a very tough league,” King said.King is counting on some players from last year’s junior varsity team to play a role this year as well as junior Eric Bransfield, who didn’t play as a sophomore, but came out for the team this year.King said he had about 28 players show up for the first day of practice, but he expects that number to be closer to 40 once school begins and the freshmen start showing up, as well as the players who are still working or away on vacation.TECHTech coach Fred Gallo lost several key players from last year, including forward Prince Tchoumi, who was one of the leading scorers in the state with 28 goals and 21 assists. Tchoumi is now at the State University of New York at Plattsburg, where he is playing soccer. Gallo will miss Gabriel Deleon in the midfield and Aloysius Fonta on defense. Fonta is at Bunker Hill Community College.The good news for the Tigers is that there is still plenty of returning talent.Richard Jones-Alas, a junior, is back at midfield, but he can also move up to striker if he’s needed. Elmer Vincente is back from last year. Gallo is expecting the junior right wing to help out offensively as well. Captains Yerlin Guevara, a midfielder, and sweeper Reggie Teah are also back, along with defender Orlin Escalante.Tech got off to a slow start last year, losing its first five games before going on a tear. The Tigers didn’t lose a game in October, but they bowed out of the tournament in the first game with a loss to Greater Lowell.Gallo said he expected to get off to a slow start last year because the team was so new, but he’s optimistic Tech will come out strong right from the start this year given the fact the backbone of the team is back.”We’ve got to see next week how things come together,” Gallo said. “We have to get everyone working togethe

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