The latest guest on New England Soccer Journal’s “The Goal” podcast is Seamans Media Managing Editor and girls prep soccer writer Mike Zhe.
Zhe has been covering the girls prep soccer season for NESJ all fall.
With the NEPSAC playoffs just a week away, Zhe joined host Matt Langone to discuss the 2022 New England boys and girls prep season to this point and to forecast which teams could make some noise in the postseason.
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Here are some highlights from our discussion with Zhe.
On the strength of the girls Founders League:
Zhe: “That’s a league that we really thought was going to be strong at the beginning of the season and it definitely hasn’t disappointed. The top tier of that league is outstanding. We touched on the race. There’s three teams still only with one league loss (at the time of this recording) that are going to kind of battle it out, right? Through the last nine days, or whatever we have here, Loomis Chaffee has been a great story, Choate is having a terrific season, and Miss Porters, which has won the league the last three times, they’ve had a season and they’re right there. And then, another game back is Westminster.”
On the Buckingham Browne & Nichols girls team:
Zhe: “We might have to wait a couple weeks to compare them to (last year’s BB&N team). Last year’s team was just incredible with the powerhouse, the way they won games, the goal differential in the final game against a very good Worcester Academy team. They won 5-0 and didn’t seem to break a sweat. What you’re seeing this year is you’re not seeing as many of those six or seven to one scores. You’re seeing more, three to two. So not every game has been a blowout. They’re being tested, they’re facing resistance, but they still haven’t lost yet (at the time of this recording). A 1-1 tie with Worcester Academy early in the season, but that’s the only, not even a blemish, but that’s the only non-win on the schedule. I think where we sit right now, they’re probably, again, the team to beat, but maybe by not as much.”
On Class B girls teams to watch out for:
Zhe: “I think first you start with a couple teams that are firmly on the radar, and you mentioned Riley (Moschella) and the season she’s having for Dexter Southfield. That’s a team that’s having a terrific season. … They have a win over Pingree, recently, and that’s a team that’s gonna be firmly back in the Class B tournament. Lawrence Academy, kind of a different look this year. No Brooke Ahearn, their dominant striker accounting for many of the goals (last year), so they’ve had to do it in different ways, different styles, different players. Se-Hanna Mars is having a great season and is one of those players who has picked up the slack.”
On Independent School League boys teams that could make some playoff noise:
Langone: “I think Milton Academy is a slam dunk, and the obvious one. Brooks and Rivers are Class B programs, so they should factor into that. Nobles will be an interesting one. They have a great record. They may need another quality win down the stretch. I think they have been impressive, obviously, with that 10-1-4 overall record. They’ve impressed, but I think they need that kind of signature victory.”
On Worcester Academy as the Class A favorite:
Langone: “I think (Worcester Academy) thought last year they were good enough to win the Class A championship. They came in this year supremely confident. When I talked to a bunch of the players in the preseason, back in August, it was — they didn’t want to say it — but it felt like championship-or-bust for this program. That’s the way they were approaching it, and they just have everything going. You said about the Worcester Academy girls program, Mike, that they don’t shy away from playing anybody. Same thing goes for the Worcester Academy boys. They will play anybody, anywhere, anytime. Not afraid to do it. Home, away, neutral site. Just a really class team. I saw them play defending champion Northfield Mount Hermon in Albany at the end of September and (Worcester) won 2-0 and it was as impressive a showing as you’re going to see in a 2-0 victory. A couple second-half goals, but things really just opened up and you saw what Worcester Academy can do.”
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