WOBURN — The way the last three seasons have gone for the Woburn High boys’ soccer team, it seems like forever since the Tanners beat Winchester in the MIAA Div. 2 North semifinals to make it to the final, where Woburn lost to Concord-Carlisle.
The Tanners went quietly in the first round to top seed Chelsea in 2015 and have not been heard from since in the postseason.
New coach Roy Gomes is out to change a lot of things with Woburn’s mindset, beginning with priorities.
“As student-athletes our first team goal is I want everyone on the honor roll,” he said. “Our second team goal is to make the tournament. You never know what is going to happen when you make the tournament.”
Gomes actually already has a season of experience with Woburn, as he was the interim coach while recent Hall of Fame inductee Paul Sands recovered from surgery in 2017.
The six-year assistant earlier had stints with the Winchester boys, under Paul Austin, and the Arlington girls under Austin before joining the staff of his alma mater, Woburn.
“I love helping the kids, it’s all about the kids, it’s their game,” said Gomes. “Soccer is a players’ game, it’s not a coaches’ game. We try to involve them and get them to understand and work for each other.”
The Tanners came the closest to reaching the postseason during the recent dry spell in that 2017 season in which Gomes was the interim coach, falling a point or two short in the last game of the season at Lexington.
Woburn graduated 14 players, which left a lot of jobs open. The Tanners as a whole have been working hard to get ready for the rigors of Middlesex League Liberty.
“The team is looking good, we have a good mix of seniors, juniors and sophomores,” said Gomes. “We also have three freshmen and the freshmen are going to have something to say this year. They are looking to crack the starting lineup are playing really well.”
Woburn has eight players back, including senior captain Kevin Barry, who will be starting his third season in goal, John Kyle, who will be starting up top, is another captain, and the third captain is Christo Genchev, who will be starting in the midfield.
The junior class has especially impressed Gomes, particularly third-year player Jared Roque, who is an outstanding center back who could play anywhere on the field.
“We are starting to mix in some great sophomores, along with some really outstanding freshmen players,” said Gomes. “The strength of our team are the midfielders, who I consider the engine of the team.”
Joining Roque on defense is senior Colin Harkins and junior Aidan Brennan in the middle. On the outside, Sam Sgroi is a returner and Patrick Doherty is going to be helping on defense and in the midfield. Freshman Chris Araujo is excellent and will also be in the mix.
In addition to Genchev in the midfield, juniors Cam Irving and Matt Wackrow are back from last year and have been playing well. Sophomore Gabe DaSilva has been fantastic and sophomore Will Comeiro is going to be a big help for the Tanners. Sophomore Mateus Donascimento is a transfer from Arlington Catholic who is going to help at halfback.
Kyle Martell and Kauan Gomes (no relation to the coach) are two freshmen who are going to be in the mix as midfielder/strikers. Coach Gomes says the two have been playing fantastic, and either one could join Kyle up front.
“There’s a good mix of all ethnicities on our team, which is great; that’s the way you build a team,” said Gomes. “Now we are in the team-building stage. We are trying to see how we are going to be. The starting lineup to me keeps fluctuating at training, you just don’t know how they are going to be, so we’ll see how they answer coming up to the first game against Burlington on Thursday.”
Gomes hopes the team plays smart and makes good decisions in the season-opener on Thursday (5:15 p.m.) against Burlington at home.