The Whitman-Hanson Regional High boys’ soccer team was a tough out this season.
It’s what fourth-year Whitman-Hanson Regional High boys’ soccer head coach Dave Leahy is of his club following this past fall.
“We faced challenges that no Whitman-Hanson team has ever had to endure, but each and every one of these players met the challenges of this 2020 COVID season,” Leahy said. “We have really turned a corner in our program where we expect to now be in every game. This group further put in the minds of our opponents that facing the Panthers is a very difficult challenge.”
The Panthers finished the season with a 6-7 record, which included a 2-1 win over Hanover in the first round of the Patriot Cup before falling to Duxbury, 3-2, in double overtime the following game. The Panthers lost four games by just one goal. They were defeated by Duxbury, 2-1, in the regular season, dropped a 1-0 heartbreaker against Hingham in the 77th minute and fell to Marshfield, 2-1.
“We really enjoyed our schedule in a shortened, uncertain season,” Leahy said. “Every single game was a playoff-like atmosphere. So, if we were going to have a shortened schedule, this was perfect for us to show what we can do and get better.”
Leahy said his team’s strength was its courage.
“Our style of soccer we have created at Whitman-Hanson takes a lot of bravery to play correctly against top competition,” said the head coach. “We showed that we are brave enough to play our game against anyone.”
Senior captains Peyton Collins and Brendan Nehiley set the tone for the Panthers this fall.
A forward, Nehiley scored a team-high five goals to go along with five assists and was named a Patriot League Keenan Division All-Star. Leahy said Nehiley’s summertime job landscaping played a big part in his success.
“This grown up maturity and physical strength he gained from this made him ready to help lead our group and be stronger to make a real presence known in each game,” Leahy said. “Brendan put this strength and maturity on display this season. He will be missed.”
Collins, who returned to the team last year after spending his sophomore season at Boston College High, will also be missed. The midfielder netted four goals and dished out a team-high six assists and was tabbed an EMSCA All-Star.
“Peyton brings professionalism in how he approaches every single part of our training sessions and our games,” Leahy explained. “His will to compete every second was his best quality he passed on to our team, and his intelligence on the ball will be sorely missed.”
Junior captain Sean McAlpine anchored the defense in front of the goalkeeping tandem of senior Randy Elfman and junior Ethan Smith.
“Sean is a natural leader and his communication is second to none at his age,” Leahy said. “Sean and senior captain Dalton Desrocher really delivered this summer holding training sessions that were safe and competitive all summer long. Every other player played a big role in making us such a competitive team this season.”
And McAlpine, along with the likes of Jack Allen (junior midfielder), Alex Chichlowski (junior center back), Wesley Silva Marquez (sophomore striker) and Jayden Stafford (junior midfielder) should play a big role in making the Panthers a competitive team next season.
“We needed to go out and prove ourselves each and every game and every practice,” Leahy said. “We hope to carry this chip on our shoulders next season as well.
“We achieved our main goal of staying healthy during this pandemic, and we kept pushing our program to demand respect in this very tough division. Next fall, we start all over again.”