The problem with streaks is that they must all come to an end. Even Joe DiMaggio had to strike out at some point.
And as daylight faded over the regional high school soccer fields last Sunday afternoon, so too did the undefeated streak for the boys’ varsity team fade away in the wake of a 3-1 loss to Bishop Feehan in the first round of state tournament play.
The Vineyarders were coming off a 10-4-1 regular season record (7-0-1 in conference), and had not lost a game since Oct. 1.
Bishop Feehan scored first, on a soft goal into the corner of the net, and would add two more goals of their own before the Vineyard could find an answer, coming in the form of a five-yard-out boot by midfielder Rodrigo Honorato in the second half.
“He literally insisted on [the goal],” said head coach Damon Burke, recalling a similar situation last year in a loss against Nantucket, when Augusto Nunes (MVRHS 2011) “hit it with all his dissatisfaction with the situation and forced the ball in.”
Following Honorato’s goal, the Vineyarders pressured Bishop Feehan for the remainder of the game, but were unable to even things out.
“I think the difference in the last game comes down to playoff experience,” said Mr. Burke. “They know what we don’t [Bishop Feehan advanced to the semi-final round of the South Sectionals last year] . . . if we had taken the game to them and made them go right away, I think it would have been different.”
“It’s a learning experience,” he said.
Tournament loss notwithstanding, the 2011 season was one for the soccer record books. The team took home its first-ever Eastern Athletic Conference championship; in doing so, they also gave the high school its first EAC title for fall sports.
Junior captain Jack Roberts finished the season league leading the league in points scored (19 total), while senior John Marcal was right behind in second place (16 points). Senior John Olivera was fifth with 12 points scored.
“We raised the level of soccer for the program considerably,” said Mr. Burke. Mr. Burke and assistant coach John Walsh are in their third year of coaching together, and many of the players coming up in the program have been working with the duo for their entire career.
“It’s really interesting . . . to see if all the things we’ve been talking about are actually working,” Mr. Burke commented. “And I think they are.”
“Every individual, and the soccer team [as a whole], was noticeably better at season’s end,” he said.
Six seniors graduate from the soccer program this year, including starters Marcal, Olivera and goalkeeper captain Rafael Maciel.
“We lose a lot with Rafael in terms of leadership,” said Mr. Burke. “And the two Johns . . . they’re some of the best soccer players we’ve had in the program.”
But the midfield duo of Roberts and MartÃn Aranzabe returns for another season, as does the entire defensive squad and backup keeper Jackson McBride. And with the junior varsity players coming off an impressive season under first-year coach Esteban Aranzabe, the pool of Vineyard talent is only increasing in depth.
Mr. Burke credited Mr. Walsh with helping the Vineyarders rise to their formidable record, also noting the exceptional community and fan support the team received throughout the season.
“Ultimately it was a great year and a tremendous leap forward for the program,” he said. “It’s just a shame it’s over so soon.”