BILLERICA – Heading into the season, the Shawsheen Tech Boys Soccer team was not shy about their goals for what they knew would be an abbreviated ten-game, CAC only schedule. They wanted to finish the season with a winning record of course, but with the knowledge that there would be no state tournament at the end of the season, they instead set their sights on a much loftier goal, winning the Commonwealth Athletic Conference title.
With a roster that included ten seniors, the Rams knew that it was a realistic goal, but also knew that they would need every member of their team, especially the seniors, to be at their best all season if they were going to make it happen.
Last Tuesday at Cassidy Field, thanks in large part to the efforts of several of those seniors, the Rams (8-1-1) made their goal a reality, clinching the CAC title with a 3-0 win over Essex Tech, avenging their only loss of the season, while also delivering Shawsheen coach Tom Severo his 400th career win.
With so much on the line heading into the game, the Rams couldn’t have been blamed if they had some jitters prior to kickoff, but if they did, they certainly put them in the rearview mirror on their way to securing the biggest victory in several years at Shawsheen
“We went into tonight kind of like any other game. We practiced hard before and warmed up and got ready like we always do and just went out and played our game,” Shawsheen forward James Genetti of Wilmington said. “But then afterward, it was like, wow, we just went out and won the league title. Coach got 400 wins and we won the league title. It’s a lot in one night, but it felt really good.”
Genetti was one of the seniors who helped give the Rams that good feeling, with a first half goal to help spring his team to a 3-0 halftime lead. The Rams would never look back from there, as they seemed to get stronger as the game went on.
Fellow seniors Billy Harthsorn, along with Tyler Archibald of Wilmington, also scored first half goals, while senior goalie Tyler Newhouse of Wilmington had 14 saves to earn the victory, including five in the first quarter alone, when Essex appeared to be in control.
Severo was pleased but not surprised to see his seniors step up in the biggest game of the season. It was what he envisioned when he chose a final roster of just 16 players, ten of which were seniors.
“The small number of kids was partly by design because I knew I had so many seniors and I knew it was a short season and I would not be able to sub as frequently as normal because everything was condensed,” Severo said. “So, it was basically on these seniors and they came through the entire way.”
Hartshorn was the first of the Rams to come through in this one, scoring off of a corner kick with less than two minutes left in the first quarter to give the Rams a 1-0 lead. Moments after Hartshorn’s goal Newhouse came up with a great diving save to preserve the Rams lead.
Newhouse claimed to have a little case of nerves before the game, but you would not have known it based on his first quarter performance where he made several big saves to stop Essex from gaining momentum.
“I was extra focused tonight, but I was also a little nervous because I knew there was a lot at stake,” Newhouse said. “Going for the league championship can get in your head a little.” But we gave one hundred and ten percent. We gave our hearts and we came to win.”
The Rams would seize control of the game midway through the second quarter with a pair of goals less than a minute apart by Genetti and Archibald. Genetti got things started with a great goal with 9:40 left off of a great pass from Archibald. Genetti took the pass from Archibald down low and made a great move to beat the Essex defender before chipping it past the stunned Essex keeper.
“Tyler gave me a beautiful pass,” Archibald said. “I took it outside, and I saw the defender was cutting outside, so I came back in and I had an open shot, so I just took it and tucked it right in.”
Archibald would strike next with a sweet shot into the right corner of the net from about 20 yards out to make it 3-0 with 8:47 left in the half. Severo sung the praises of all three of his first half goal scorers.
“Genetti was just on fire in the first half. I loved it. And Tyler is just the most skilled player in the league. He is just awesome and he is a great kid,” Severo said. “And Billy Hartshorn has been great all season. He never slacks. He is the kid in practice, who is always the first one to do everything. Every drill we do, he leads the pack. He works hard and that sets a tone for everyone.”
After that it was just a matter of putting the game in the hands of Newhouse and the Rams defense and they continued to come through, particularly Newhouse who once again held off an Essex charge to start the second half and preserved the Rams lead.
For most of the season Newhouse has split time in net fellow senior Adam Kearns, but in this one Newhouse nearly went the distance, playing all but the final ten minutes before Kearns took over and preserved the shutout.
“Tyler is solid. He played great on Saturday (in a 2-0 win over Mystic Valley) as well. Adam is just as talented. I have been blessed to have two very talented goalies. I went with Tyler because I know he is not going to make any mistakes, and that is why we kept him in the whole game,” Severo said. “Usually we have been splitting (Tyler and Adam) half and half because they are two seniors and are great kids.”
On a night that the Rams needed everybody to be at their best, Genetti felt that is exactly what the Rams got, from the defense to the forwards.
“Our defense was doing a real good job of putting the ball up the field and getting it to us. Everybody played well,” Genetti said. “The main thing was we didn’t want to lose here at home on Senior Night, with the league title on the line. There was a lot there, and everybody stepped up and played their best game.
“It feels great to be a part of (Severo’s 400th win). He got us here, and we were glad we were able to help him out with that. Like I said, it was a great night. We got the championship and he got his 400th win. Coach is happy and we are happy for him.”
Severo was happy with the accomplishment of his 400th win, but he was even happier for his group of seniors who have helped him join several big wins over the past four seasons.
“Every year they have been here they have been better and better, and they really stepped up this season,” Severo said. “We have qualified for the tournament every year. I think freshman year we had seven wins, and the next year he had nine and then last year we were 11-3-4. And this year after nine games, I was thinking to myself we had seven wins after nine games, so if you double that it would have been even better than last season. So, I think for them to win the championship is a terrific honor for those seniors after a very strange season.”
Members of Shawsheen’s CAC championship team included Jeremy Perez, Anthony Papa, Cam Camelio, Matt Hemenway, Joe Hansen, Noah Rizzo, Joe Woodward, Billy Hartshorn, Tyler Archibald, Tyler Kopacz, Evan Pinto, Derek Costello, Tyler Newhouse, Adam Kearns, James Genetti and Devin Almeida.