14 days ago
By Bob York —
A short memory was probably the key ingredient in allowing this fall’s Deerfield Academy boys soccer team to make it through a long season.
“It was a great season … except for the record,” said Big Green coach Jan Flaska, “but to be honest, I couldn’t be any prouder of these kids, yet I couldn’t be more disappointed for them, either. After our final game of the season, I thanked them for playing hard and playing with resilience.”
That’s because after the final game of the season, the Big Green had nothing to show for its efforts under the win column. When this year’s edition of Deerfield boys soccer reached “The End” it owned a, 0-12-4 record.
“To the team’s credit, we were in every one of our games but one,” said Flaska. “We had one real hiccup during the entire season … that being a 6-1 loss to Wilbraham Monson. Other than that one game though, we were in every game until the final whistle.
“In a number of our games, we’d score a late goal to grab the lead but then lose it at the end,” added Flaska. “That’s why it was a blessing that these kids were able to play with short memories … a good amount of our losses were tough to take.”
In addition to four games ending in ties, during which it battled Avon and Westminster to back-to-back scoreless ties and had to settle for 1-1 deadlocks with Salisbury and Williston, the Big Green saw a half dozen other games settled by a one-goal margin.
Three of those heartbreakers would come against tournament-bound teams, as Deerfield fell to third-seeded Andover by a 2-1 count, was trimmed by fourth-ranked Kent, 1-0, and eighth-ranked Northfield Mount Hermon School, 3-2. The Big Green also opened its season with a pair of 2-1 setbacks to Suffield and Brunswick, and later suffered a 2-1 loss to Exeter.
During this season of frustration–a season that saw it outscored by a 36-15 margin–Deerfield also absorbed another five losses by two-goal margins. Adding insult to injury was the fact that three of these setbacks went to teams bound for postseason play. Second-ranked Worcester and fifth-seeded Hotchkiss both claimed 4-2 victories over the Big Green, while Loomis, the sixth-ranked team in the tourney field, grabbed a 3-1 decision. Choate and Taft also won by two-goal margins by scores of 3-1 and 2-0 respectively.
Despite coming up winless on the season, three Big Green still managed to place three of its players on all-star teams. Goaltender Max Chesky (15) and defenseman Cole Horton (14) earned berths on the New England Prep School Boys Soccer League All-Star Team, while midfielder Steve Baisch (14) was awarded a spot on the Western New England Prep School Boys Soccer League All-Star Team. Both Baisch and Horton would also share in this season’s presentation of the Holbrook Ellis Cup.
With his teammates netting just 15 goals in 16 games, Chesky, needless to say, found himself with very little wiggle room while attempting to protect the front end of a goal that is 24 feet wide and eight feet high. He hung in there, though, allowing an average of only 2.25 goals per game.
He finished the season with a pair of shutouts and at one point early on, issued just two goals during a four-game stretch but had just two scoreless ties to show for it. Overall, he allowed two goals or fewer in 10 of his 16 games, including his first seven starts.
“It was tough,” said Chesky of his team’s struggle to make it through an entire season without a win, “but we all stuck together. Nobody gave up … everybody kept playing and everyone on the team deserves a lot of credit.
“I think one thing that help was that due to an entire team effort game in and game out, we were in just about every game we played until the very end,” added Chesky, whose brother Matt (08) played soccer goalie at Deerfield for three years before moving on to a career at Yale. “ We have a number of kids on this team who are returning next season and I think the experience we gained from this season will help us move forward.”
Ben Garfinkel (15) and Max McEvoy (15), who have been elected co-captains of next year’s squad, proved to be Chesky’s main men on defense, along with Horton. Xavier Salvador (14), Kyle Burns (14), Skye Perot (14), Anil Ozer (14), Tom Milmo (15) and Mark DesLauriers (16) also helped make their goaltender’s life much easier than it might have been.
Tim Edmonds (14), who moved up from the JV squad about two weeks into the season, showed he belonged up with the varsity by ending the season as the Big Green’s leading scorer with four goals. Camil Blanchet (14) had a special story as well, as he began the season as a goalie, but moved up to play forward when asked by Flaska to help supply the team with a little more fire power.