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LYNNFIELD — The Lynnfield boys soccer team awaits Friday’s release of the MIAA state tournament pairings.
Pioneers coach Brent Munroe said he is excited about the future of this team.
“Honestly, I loved last year’s team, but I really like what this team has done this year,” he said. “I love the seniors and the younger players are really into it so I am really excited about our progress. It didn’t help that we had some injuries early, but we have been playing some really good soccer, especially the last 10 games so we have gotten so much better as the season went on and I am optimistic about our chances in the tournament.”
While Lynnfield finished the regular season with a 9-8-1 record, truth be told, its record doesn’t begin to tell the story of the progress the team made this year. Five of the Pioneers’ eight losses were decided by just one goal.
Last year, the Pioneers lost to Weston in the final of the Division 3 North tournament but graduation took a huge toll with the team losing six senior starters.
As such, it was no surprise that the Pioneers had some serious rebuilding to do this season.
While Lynnfield took some time figuring things out, going 3-5 in its first eight games, things began to gel midway through the season.
The Pioneers won their next five games to climb above .500 at 8-5.
A 2-1 win over Bishop Fenwick on Oct. 12 clinched the Pioneers’ spot in the tournament.
The Pioneers wrapped up the regular season Oct. 23 with a 1-0 loss to perennial Cape Ann League Kinney Division champion Masconomet, which scored the game-winning goal with less than two minutes to play.
“We played great, especially in the second half when we had a bunch of scoring chances,” said Munroe.
While Lynnfield picked up only one point in its final three regular season games, Munroe said the Pioneers are confident going into the postseason.
“We lost a lot of games early, but not too many of late,” said Munroe. “We have been playing very well and defending really well even in our last three games. We played the two best teams in the league the last two games and, honestly, we should have beaten Pentucket and should have tied Masco. We are feeling really good about our chances.
“With our schedule, we may have up to two weeks off,” he said. “Most of the teams in Division 3 still have games to play and a lot of teams are bunched together.”
Munroe foresees a competitive field in Division 3 North.
“I feel like we should get a 10 or 11 seed maybe and play a five or six-seeded team, but I think we have as good a chance as anybody in the first round,” Munroe said. “Bedford is having a terrific year and looks to be the top team and, from our league, Pentucket and Newburyport should also be near the top of the bracket.”
Lynnfield, which was shutout five times this year, will need production from its top scorers to advance.
Senior Tommy Buston leads the team with nine goals while fellow senior Tommy Hauser has scored eight. Freshman Alex Gentile, who missed the first eight games of the season due to injury, finished the season with four goals.
Munroe said a big part of the team’s success has been the emergence of exchange student Matteus Saramento and goalkeeper Dante Gesamondo.
“They were surprises for us and have both stepped up and played so well,” said Munroe.”I didn’t know what to expect from them. Dante has actually won a couple of games for us and has been really solid for us back there.”