St. Mary’s gets another chance at state championship

St. Mary's Nolan Perez is one of 10 seniors on the roster. (Item File Photo)

LYNN — When the St. Mary’s boys soccer team reached the Division 4 state final three years ago in 2015, the Spartans didn’t find the result they hoped for. Inexperience and a lack of depth came back to haunt the Spartans and Monson thumped them with a 6-2 win for the state championship.

Now, three years later, St. Mary’s has a chance to avenge that loss and erase the sour memories from 2015. That’s what the 10 seniors on St. Mary’s roster are looking to achieve.

“We were a young team back then,” St. Mary’s coach Mike D’Agostino said. “I played a lot of freshmen that year. Inexperience and lack of depth caught up to us back then. We held with Monson up until the second half, it was 2-1. This year I think we have more experience and leadership.”

Standing in St. Mary’s way is a formidable Bromfield opponent — the defending Division 4 state champion. The Trojans went 11-3-3 in the regular season. They won Division 4 Central and defeated Lenox, 5-0, in the state semifinal earlier this week. St. Mary’s will clash against Bromfield for the Division 4 state championship Saturday night (6:30) at St. John’s Prep.

“They’re the state champs from last year,” D’Agostino said. “They’re a talented team. I know they graduated 13 seniors from last year. They have Charlie Pappas, he’s their leading scorer. We have to make sure he doesn’t touch the ball much. I talked to my kids about it. We’re not going to change our style of play. We’re just asking for one more game. They’re going to give their heart and soul and that’s all we’re asking for.”

Though the Spartans like to open games with an aggressive attack from the opening whistle, they don’t waver when things don’t go their way. St. Mary’s fell behind 1-0 in both the North final and the state semifinal but the Spartans battled back and walked away with wins.

“The key for this game is keeping the momentum, keeping the offense moving forward,” D’Agostino said. “The first 15 minutes (in Wednesday’s 3-2 win over Cohasset in the state semifinal) we kept the offense moving forward. We want to move the ball around and get some shots on net. That’s a big part of our style of play and our philosophy.
“We keep our composure and that’s what we’re good at doing,” he continued. “We just had to settle down and play our style of soccer, and we did that. The same will go regardless of what happens against Bromfield.”

In addition to the composure they’ve shown in battling back from deficits in tournament games, the Spartans are also battle tested thanks to the challenging schedule they played during the regular season. St. Mary’s made it a point to match itself up against top-notch teams across the state, including St. John’s Prep, Lincoln-Sudbury and Concord-Carlisle.

D’Agostino said the opponents the Spartans played during the regular season gave them a solid indication of what they’d see in the state tournament.

“Looking at our schedule I didn’t think we’d do as good as we did,” D’Agostino said. “If we were going to do it, we might as well go out and play the best. We tried to pick the best teams around. A lot of coaches I’ve seen gave me kudos for playing the best teams. It helped us build our character. The loss to Concord-Carlisle gave us an idea of where we are. We had to show up and play that whole game and we didn’t do that in that game. We can compete with anybody. This definitely will help us compete against Bromfield.”

D’Agostino said he was pleased with the attitude and effort in practice leading up to Saturday’s game.

“The boys are very excited,” D’Agostino said. “That’s all they’re talking about. We had the captain’s breakfast Thursday. We had one of our last practices. I told them to seize the moment and enjoy it. I think a lot of them saw what happened in Monson and they’re looking to change that result.”

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