When the Concord-Carlisle boys’ soccer team defeated Boston Latin Oct. 19, it was more than just another win. In clinching an appearance in the state tournament, Concord-Carlisle extended a winning tradition that’s far older than any of this year’s players.
For 33 consecutive seasons tracing back to 1985, the school has qualified for the state soccer tournament, an unprecedented achievement.
The groundwork for this sustained success begins long before any of the players step on the pitch at the high school, with a youth program that gives youngsters a chance to be coached by the current varsity players. Concord residents support soccer in a big way: Major games such as the one the team plays at its annual Kicks for Cancer event can fill the stands with nearly 3,000 spectators.
Wearing the team jersey, then, means a lot to area kids.
Senior forward Peter Hartshorne moved to Concord when he was three, and grew up playing in the town’s youth soccer system.
“Ever since I was a little kid,” said Hartshorne, “I looked up to the varsity team and what they accomplished. It’s weird looking back now. I don’t often stop and think about what the program really means, but when I do, I realize we have done so much and we’re continuing with that tradition.”
Senior midfielder Logan Dick, who has lived in Concord since the fifth grade, can relate.
“One of the great things about the C-C soccer team is it has always been big with the community,” he said. “So to be a part of the soccer team now and to captain it, it feels really great just to represent the team and our community with it.”
The team plays in the Dual County League, known for perennially producing state title contenders. Each year, Concord-Carlisle matches up twice each with powerhouse squads like Lincoln-Sudbury and Acton-Boxborough, producing showdowns that are oftentimes duplicated in the deepest stages of the state tournament.
With that in mind, 33 consecutive seasons without dropping too many matches against conference opponents is nothing to sneeze at.
Coach Ray Pavlik has been at the helm since 2002. Fittingly, he too is a Concord-Carlisle soccer product, graduating from the school in 1992.
“We play in one of the top leagues,” said Pavlik, “So the fact that this predates me and at no point have we slipped up in that time playing in the league we play in makes it special. There are no easy seasons’’ in the Dual County League.
While the string of tourney appearances is an impressive one, it’s not something team members harp on. Instead, the goal from preseason on is making the tournament; once that is accomplished, sights are set on winning the league title and finishing the season strong.
“We set a series of goals for ourselves each year,” said Pavlik. “Obviously we are not going to hang our season and define our season on if we win a state title. “
“There’s so much that goes into that every year, including some luck
Goalkeeper Davis Van Inwegen moved to Concord from Belgium when he was in the sixth grade. It did not take him long to get immersed in the soccer scene, from playing town soccer to being a ball boy at the high school games.
Now, he gives back like many of his teammates, coaching some of the younger kids. Knowing the impact the team has on the community can be a bit of a burden to the players, but the rewards are real.
“Like with anything,” said Van Inwegen, “there’s a fair amount of pressure being part of such a successful program, and it gets to you a little bit. But then you realize once you step on the pitch, you kind of shed it all away by going game by game and doing your job.
“It’s really cool to step back after a season and know that you just contributed to the 31st year that we made the playoffs, or the 33d, or 32d.”
His classmate Spencer Royal agrees.
“I know I looked up to a lot of the varsity guys [growing up], and the fact that they were doing so well was awesome to see,” said Royal. “Being able to continue that record and have some good success in the program has been really great . . . and being a senior on the team now is just really special.”Logan Mullen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ByLoganMullen.