The latest guest on New England Soccer Journal’s “The Goal” podcast is Northfield Mount Hermon boys soccer head coach Charlie Malcolm.
Malcolm is entering his 18th season at NMH. Last year, he guided his team to a record of 13-2-1 and a NEPSAC Class A championship, as they defeated Taft in a memorable penalty kick shootout for the title. Northfield also captured Class A crowns in 2006 and 2010.
With the 2022 boys prep regular season set to begin across New England in just about two weeks, Malcolm joined the show to recap his team’s impressive performance last fall and preview what the upcoming campaign could look like for Northfield Mount Hermon and many other contenders throughout the region.
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Here are some highlights from our discussion with Malcolm.
On the joy of hoisting the championship trophy last year:
Malcolm: “First off, it was so great to be competing again without thinking about getting through COVID. It was a tremendous year of growth, even when we didn’t have that (2020) season. I think about the great run we had last year. I think about the previous season, where we developed 25, 30 kids, because we had to create our own soccer on campus. And we had tremendous leadership from our seniors, which meant all these younger kids got a ton of playing time.”
On being the defending champs:
Malcolm: “Teams are definitely coming at us hard and that’s awesome. I’d say the beauty, though, is we’ve got seven or eight new guys coming in and we broke up into smaller groups for our preseason fitness, so they’re in groups of six, each led by a senior. We’ve got great seniors, so I’ll be really fascinated to see the level of work they’ve put in. But, yeah, we need to gear up, particularly if you look at our schedule.”
On the challenges presented by Worcester Academy:
Malcolm: “I think it’s the most consistently prepared team. There are things that James (Proctor) does that really prepares his players for college soccer in their ability to transition into that organized defense, of taking advantage of restarts, corner kicks, quick transition play, but also the way he traps midfield. You have to make great risk-reward decisions in midfield when you play Worcester. If you don’t, then you’re going to start giving up those restarts that he throws big dudes in the box.”
On the depth of NEPSAC soccer:
Malcolm: “Milton and Chris (Kane) do such a great job, bringing in kids, and also he creates systems of play that are really fun to watch. He was the first one to consistently play with three in the back and he’s such a great colleague. It’s fun to talk coaching with him. He’s always looking out for kids and helping them find places. Milton’s got a sweet spot in the sense that they’re close to the Revs. They have a great day student population, but they also have boarding. And so they have a wonderful confluence of things for Chris to work with. And it’s a great school. … Loomis graduated some incredible players. They were a handful to play against. I think we were lucky to catch them early (in 2021) when they were working on some things and we just pressed high and they were determined to build out of the back and we stepped up and scored some goals, but not a team I’d like to face in the tournament. And, kudos to Taft for knocking (Loomis) off. And (Ozzie Parente) is a great coach and he has been able to tap-in to the local club community in the Hartford area. So I’m sure he’ll reload. … I think South Kent and Taft are some of the more dynamic attacking teams in prep soccer. And I know South Kent is a Class B, but they’re a top-three team in New England every year.”
On the main priorities for his team this season:
Malcolm: “We’re returning a great defense. Midfield is a work in progress. And then we’re going to have tremendous outside pace — wing backs that can go. But we’re going to need to really figure out and solve the middle of the pitch. I think that’s a key thing. I think all of us as coaches also need to think carefully about how we set up and press the field because we have free substitution.”
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