The Panthers had a four-win season due to a variety of reasons.
Head coach Dave Leahy described this past season as an unlucky, learning experience for the Whitman-Hanson Regional High boys’ soccer team, which went 4-14-1.
The Panthers were down three key pieces before the season even began with the transfers of sophomores Peyton Collins to BC High and Joel Arsenault to Brockton and broken ankle of junior midfielder Adam Milewski, sustained in the preseason.
However, the Panthers hung tough at the outset — rallying around the losses rather than using them as excuses — as evident by their 2-0 start.
But once they got into their first half of league play, the Panthers dropped six of their next seven, and finding the net was becoming an issue. W-H pumped in just 10 goals over those seven games. Four of them came in a 4-1 victory over Plymouth South.
“The biggest difference between this year and last year (11-8-1) was the group of seniors,” the second-year head coach said. “Last year we had more seniors who had played together for many years. This year our group of seniors was smaller in numbers and had played together a lot less.”
As the fall wore on, W-H lost sophomore starter Brendan Nehiley for two weeks and junior starting goalie Andrew Sullivan for the last fourth of the season.
With the rash of injuries came opportunities, and sophomore Dalton Desrocher took advantage.
“Dalton Desrocher stepped up and had a consistent season in the center midfield positions, playing consistent defense, passing the ball well and adding a few goals,” Leahy said.
The boys did finish the year on a high note with a 2-1 triumph over Rockland.
“It was like our only playoff game,” Leahy said. “It was important for seniors to go away with a positive and for returning players to have something to build on in the preseason.”
The Panthers were led on offense by nine goals and three assists from junior captain Jason Broduer and seven goals and four assists from senior Nolan Clack.
The defense was buoyed by senior Ben Rogers and junior captain Stevie Kelly, the team’s lone Patriot League All-Star.
Leahy said as disappointing as the campaign was, he’s optimistic the team can use it to its advantage.
“We worked very hard as a group heading into the 2018 season, but bad luck got in our way,” Leahy said. “I hope the disappointments felt by returning players in the program will feel motivated to improve as much as they possibly can to get us back on the more successful side in 2019.”