H.S. Soccer Preview: Mahar girls loaded; boys turn to fresh faces

  • The Mahar Senators pose with the Western Massachusetts Div. 3 finalist trophy following their loss to South Hadley in 2019. STAFF FILE PHOTO

Recorder Intern
Published: 3/25/2021 7:05:12 PM
Modified: 3/25/2021 7:08:14 PM

Mahar girls soccer coach Chad Softic enters his 10th year at the helm of the Senators fresh off a historic 2019 season where his club reached the title game of the WMass Div. 3 tournament. With almost every starter back this season, the hope is that trend of recent success will continue.

Because Mahar returns so much talent, they were geared up for another shot at a championship. Despite the lack of a postseason tournament at the end of the rainbow, Softic said he is still aiming for his squad to play up to its capability.

“I just want this team to play to its full potential and stay healthy. That’s really it,” offered Softic on what his goals are for the season. “We have everyone back on a championship caliber team. We were really looking forward to this season, because we clearly thought we were good enough to win this year. I’m going to do everything I can to keep the girls motivated as we await better days ahead.”

As disappointing as it may be to not compete in the postseason, Softic said he is still really impressed with the energy and effort his team has shown over the course of practice. He has made it certain that the Senators will be leaving it all out on the field for this year’s graduating class, who will not have the opportunity to play in another high school tourney.

“We only have two seniors on this year’s team,” began Softic. “Delaney Parker is one of them, and she has scored 165 career points. Two hundred is going to be difficult, but it’s not necessarily impossible, so that is definitely a milestone in the back of our minds. The other senior is Micalyn Mailloux, who is not only a tremendous basketball player, but someone who has come on strong as a striker for me over the last couple of years.”

With only graduating two players, Softic said he expects Mahar to be right back in a similar position come next fall. 

“We certainly will [have a strong team back next year],” stated Softic. “We have a huge junior class, so they will all be seniors and we expect them to provide a lot of experience and leadership both this season and next.”

Softic said he is hoping for high-level play out of the aforementioned senior duo of Parker and Mailloux, as both are capable of putting up huge numbers. Alongside the two seniors, talented juniors Natalie Belloli, Gracie Rich and Sienna Moore are ones to watch.

Mahar boys

After moving on from an incredibly gifted nine-man senior class, highlighted by Jamie Temple and Riley Drew, the Mahar boys soccer program looks to build on the talent they have had over the last few years. Although there has been a long layoff since they last took the pitch, the Senators are poised and ready to rock with yet another strong year.

Head coach Dan Guertin has witnessed some gifted soccer players come through his program, and he said he is excited to build skill and chemistry within his young squad to continue that trend this season. Guertin’s main focus is to not only add to the success they have had, but to also put the best product on the field for this year.

“I go into every single year trying to put the best quality program out there that I can,” Guertin began. “I also look at sustaining the success from one year and building on it for future years. The way everything has worked with COVID-19, we’ve placed an emphasis on developing the returners for next year, while still putting out a team that will be competitive this year.”

That seems to be a common consensus within every coach in the area. Considering there is no postseason, most coaches have focused on structuring their team for the fall of next school year, while also taking time to appreciate and celebrate the current seniors.

Perhaps because of the coronavirus pandemic, numbers are low across the board in Franklin County. Additionally, almost the entire Mahar starting lineup graduated in 2020, so opportunities have expanded for other players that have been loyal to the program, according to Guertin.

“I’m looking at 10 new starting spots for next year,” declared Guertin. “Because of the incredible roster turnover, as well as COVID, it’s almost a brand new team. Traditionally we have around 35 kids in grades 9-12, but this year we only have about 15. I have some really talented kids that are going to step up, be leaders, and take control more than they have in the past. Watching their development and how they’re going to take over is going to be really cool.”

Guertin expects several standout players to surprise opponents with their solid play on the field this season. Junior Cole Johnson sees the entire field with great vision and anticipation, and Guertin is looking for him to fill the shoes of Jamie Temple.

Senior Henry Gilmore is someone Guertin will look to for scoring, as he fills the hole left by Riley Drew. Alex Currier and Cam Johnson headline the back line for Mahar this year, and Guertin anticipates great leadership from those two defenders.

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