Boys soccer: Mohawk Trail wins team sportsmanship award

  • Mohawk Trail’s Reuben Bassett scores against Duggan Academy goalie Juan DeJesus earlier this season in Buckland. The Warriors won the Frederick Ames Sportsmanship Award from the Connecticut Valley Soccer Officials Association (CVSOA) this season. Staff FILE Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Mohawk’s Keeman Ramirez challenges Duggan Academy’s Chris Mazariegos Perez earlier this season. The Warriors won the Frederick Ames Sportsmanship Award from the Connecticut Valley Soccer Officials Association (CVSOA) this season. Staff FILE Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Greenfield’s Kevin Chen, left, and Mohawk’s Porter Carr battle for possession earlier this season in Greenfield. The Warriors won the Frederick Ames Sportsmanship Award from the Connecticut Valley Soccer Officials Association (CVSOA) this season. Staff FILE Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 12/3/2019 9:43:26 PM
Modified: 12/3/2019 10:08:10 PM

Not many could have predicted the success the Mohawk Trail boys soccer team had in its first season back after not fielding a team in 2018.

The Warriors overachieved in many ways. They won eight games to earn a spot in the WMass Div. 4 Tournament, where they defeated McCann Tech for the first postseason victory in program history. They were previously 0-9 in tournament action.

Their play on the field was what drew the attention of the opposition, but it was the way they carried themselves throughout the fall that earned them accolades at the season’s end.

Mohawk Trail was awarded the Frederick Ames Award from the Connecticut Valley Soccer Officials Association (CVSOA) at the organization’s end of the season banquet last month. The award honors the team that showed the most sportsmanship throughout the season.

“It’s nice to be honored,” Warrior coach Nick Brown said. “It’s nice to see everything they put into the season and how positive they stayed throughout it — the rough games and tough missed goals or PKs, tough end of the year — be awarded. Being able to look back and show this team had an impact on multiple people from other coaches and officials means a lot. I’m so proud of these guys. The award stems from the parents and everything they do for the kids.”

It’s the second year in a row a Warrior team has been presented the award, as the girls soccer team won it in 2018.

Brown brought a positive attitude to Mohawk Trail in his first season as coach, but also a level of respect that the team gravitated toward. He made sure that being respectful was the number one rule, and his team followed it from start-to-finish this year.

“I was pretty pumped when I found out,” Brown said. “One of the first things I said to the guys at the beginning of year was, ‘It’s the officials’ job to officiate, our job is to play.’ They make the calls and we play what they call, whether it’s right or wrong. We don’t argue with them. The guys took that in stride. It’s definitely tough in the heat of a big game to take a step back and let the officials make the call that could make or break the game, but they did that and I’m proud of that.

“It’s cool knowing I’m not much older than these guys,” continued Brown, who graduated from Mohawk Trail in 2015. “To receive this award means that they respect me and I respect them and we all respect the people involved in the game. It shows a lot for the  young people around the program and we hope to keep it going next year.”

Brown feels his team’s ability to keep its head when it comes to officiating helped them on the field.

It’s impossible for referees to call a perfect game, but if a player lets a call get in the way of their play on the field, it hurts their team.

“A couple officials told me how one of the big things he took away from our team was that we would go out and play hard, regardless what was happening on the field,” Brown said. “We kept our head level and we played the game the way it was meant to be played. During the speech for the award, one official mentioned an instance he remembers where we were playing McCann at home and we were chatting before the game and I told him if he had an issue with my guys to come to me and I’d handle it. He said that showed we were building the right thing here.”

Building a culture isn’t easy and sometimes takes years to accomplish, but winning a sportsmanship award shows the Mohawk Trail program is heading in the right direction.

While it was Brown who instilled the culture, it’s the players who were responsible for displaying it on the pitch.

“It shows that these guys are leaders,” Brown said. “They were able to take those words of just playing the game and took that in stride and kept their heads high. This is building the culture. We’ll work as a team always but respect is the number one rule. You have to respect the opponent and everyone in it. If you can’t do that, it’s hard to develop a strong program. By building this culture we have going, we want to keep riding it. If we do, there are good things to come.”

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