PEABODY — Things didn’t go as planned for the Bishop Fenwick boys soccer team during the 2017 season. The Crusaders took longer than they had hoped to mesh together, finished the season at 5-6-7 and fell short of an appearance in the state tournament. Mix in the fact that Fenwick was getting used to a new system brought by first-year Fenwick coach Tony Enos and the challenges caught up to the Crusaders.
Enos, now in his second year at Fenwick, feels things will be better this season. The Crusaders have been at it in their preseason for the past two weeks and they’ve shown encouraging signs of improvement.
“Last year was kind of a rough year,” Enos, a former assistant men’s soccer coach at Salem State, said. “We graduated eight seniors but this year we’re well ahead of where we were last year. I’m feeling good about where we’re at. We seem to be more solidified and I’m feeling pretty good about this year.
“Things look pretty good. We played Ipswich, which usually has a strong team. We lost to Ipswich 4-1 in a preseason game last year. This year we tied 1-1. It was a game we dominated. We gave up a late penalty and they tied it. We had a very strong showing.”
Leading the way for the Crusaders this fall are three captains in seniors Brian Harrington (goalie), Sean Walsh (center-back) and Brian Sharp (outside-mid). Also returning to the fold are junior forward Sean Kern, senior forward Tarek Nabbout and senior center-back Nico Manganiello.
Enos said Manganiello has looked stellar during the preseason.
“I’ve never seen a kid work so hard,” Enos said. “He came to camp in great shape. He’s earned himself a center-back position. It’s not a place I expected to see him play. He’s made quite a transformation for himself.”
Enos projected defense to be the team’s strength this fall and added that he feels the Crusaders will also boast a stronger attack.
“I think defensively we’re going to be very strong,” Enos said. “I certainly hope to score more goals than we scored last year. Defensively we’ll be very strong, especially with Harrington returning to goal. We’re feeling good defensively. In the attack, we’re working on things. Sean and Tarek are both speedy forwards. They’re both going at the net aggressively. I’m feeling good about it.”
As for a key area to improve on, the Crusaders are looking to gel together sooner rather than later this season. The good news is Fenwick has picked up on the concepts it learned last year and is far ahead compared to where the team was at this point in 2017.
“Last year it was somewhat fragmented with the seniors that were on the squad,” Enos said. “We had a strong forward, a couple strong guys on the outside, the inside was young, the middle was young. This year they’re getting the team concept, moving the ball well, defending extremely well as small groups. A lot of the guys that are coming back remember the things we worked on last year. I’m looking forward to building on that.”
Fenwick aims to get back to the state tournament but a stacked Catholic Central League awaits the Crusaders first. With a year of experience in the CCL under his belt, Enos knows what can be expected from tournament mainstays like St. Mary’s, Austin Prep and Archbishop Williams.
“St. Mary’s is always a very difficult team to play,” Enos said. “They’re always very good. They have a very good squad. I know they have a couple nice freshmen coming in and their captains are strong players. They have a very strong team. Austin Prep will also be strong this year. Williams lost a few key players, I think this will be a bit of a rebuilding year. Spellman’s on a similar boat, they lost a couple players.”
The Crusaders open the season next Monday at Malden Catholic.
“They’re excited,” Enos said. “They’re anxious to get it going. Malden Catholic tends to be a tough team a tough opponent. We face them every year. We face St. Mary’s right after that (Sept. 12). They’re excited to start the season against two tough opponents.”