DANVERS — Saturday’s 3-1 loss to Bromfield in the Division 4 state final wasn’t the result the St. Mary’s boys soccer team hoped for. But the shortcoming doesn’t put a damper on a successful season to remember for the Spartans.
St. Mary’s finished the year at 20-3-2.
“I just said this to (assistant) coach (Joe) Gill, 20-3-2 is a great record,” St. Mary’s coach Mike D’Agostino said. “It’s fantastic. The boys have played hard from day one, when we went down to Cape Cod and played Nauset.
“We got this far. It’s a huge accomplishment. I’m very proud to be their coach. I’m pleased with the way they worked and I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”
The season started on a sour note for the Spartans, who fell to Lynn Tech in their season opener. A week later, St. Mary’s tied Catholic Central League Bishop Fenwick. That’s when the Spartans started to pick things up and play to their capabilities. They finished the regular season at 15-2-2. Along the way they defeated Fenwick in the second meeting between the two, took down tournament mainstay Lincoln-Sudbury and tied Division 1 powerhouse St. John’s Prep.
The Spartans tested themselves during the regular season and it paid dividends during the state tournament. St. Mary’s earned the No. 2 seed in Division 4 North and defeated Rockport in the first round to set up at third meeting with Fenwick in the quarterfinal. St. Mary’s took down the Crusaders with a 3-1 win and advanced to the sectional semifinal where the Spartans clashed against Burke — the team that ended St. Mary’s season in 2017. The Bulldogs were no match for the Spartans and St. Mary’s continued its postseason run with a 1-0 win. St. Mary’s defeated Mystic Valley, 2-1, in the sectional final and Cohasset, 3-2, in the state semifinal.
Along the way, multiple players stepped up in key moments. Thiago DeOliveira scored the lone goal in the win over Burke and fired in two goals in the victory over Cohasset on his 18th birthday. Joey Thongsythavong, an All-New England selection, lived up to the honor and was a playmaker game in and game out. Goalie Matt Gallego made his first start of the season in the sectional quarterfinal and put forth a string of solid efforts.
St. Mary’s graduates 10 seniors from this year’s roster. They are DeOliveira, Thongsythavong, Nolan Perez, Olu George, Nicholas Pappas, Matt Connolly, Connor Mackey, Aidan O’Brien, Alex Nguyen and Dante Cattaneo.
“This year was phenomenal,” D’Agostino said. “It was one of the best school records we’ve had in a while. Some of these guys have been with me for four, five, six years. Thiago and Olu have been with me for five or six years and they’ve given me everything they had. They worked great. Connolly’s been here for five years. They’ve been with the program for a while.
“It’s going to be tough to replace them. They worked hard. Most of them are going to play college soccer which is a huge accomplishment. That’s what I take pride in.”
With a handful of underclassmen who received extensive playing time during the season, including the tournament run, the future’s bright for St. Mary’s.
“Matt (Gallego) is a junior, Richie (LeBrun) is a freshman,” D’Agostino said. “He played every game. A freshman playing left fullback, you can’t ask for more than that. He competed with Bromfield’s kids. They have a lot of seniors and he did a good job. (Junior) Kevin Perez is another one that led the way for us. (Sophomore) Jackson Nickolau’s another one that’s going to step up for us in the future.”