A rigorous offseason training regimen has helped the Bedford boys’ soccer club build up their depth and determination in the always competitive Dual County League.
It paid off tenfold Thursday night when the Buccaneers (6-1-3) took a mighty swipe at then top-ranked Concord-Carlisle, handing the Patriots (8-1) their first loss of the season with a 2-0 win.
It was their first win over Concord-Carlisle in three years.
“We knew going in that we had a pretty good game plan,” said Bedford coach Dave Boschetto, now in his ninth season. “We scouted them and we knew their system really well. Anytime you can beat them it’s a testament to hard work and perseverance.”
The main thing that Boschetto attributes the team’s success to is preseason conditioning.
“Our senior leadership has been outstanding in working on training,” said Boschetto. “This is the most fit team I’ve ever had and it’s allowed us to work on tactical stuff. It’s made a huge difference.”
One of the senior leaders that helped the movement along is third-year starting goalie Craig Kelly, who has posted seven clean sheets this season.
“He was a great leader in the offseason,” said Boschetto. “He led us through all the physical work this summer and he leads on the field as well.”
Boschetto was also quick to note the efforts of his defense, including a couple of unsung grinders at the centerback position, seniors Joe Gallagher and Mark Dunlea.
“They’ve shown great improvement since last year,” said Boschetto, who, like most coaches in the DCL, prides himself on having a solid defensive core. “The amount of improvement the returning players have shown is above what you’d ever expect.”
Up front the Buccaneers offense has flowed through a couple of underclassmen who make the attack more dynamic by working from their midfield positions.
Sophomore Peter Whallon, who scored the first goal against C-C, is tied for the league lead in points with 13 (eight goals, four assists) and junior Michael Dushman is not far behind with nine points (five goals, four assists).
“Everybody has done what they need to,” said Boschetto of his team’s effort. “There is no one magic bullet of why we’ve done well. We just have some great assistant coaches in place, great kids who want to work hard, and we’ve put ourselves in a great position.”
If they can maintain against the rest of the DCL then the Buccaneers may find themselves playing for their first DCL Small title since 2008 when they cap their regular season Oct. 29 at home against Concord-Carlisle.
But they know better than to look ahead, especially in this league, and Boschetto and his senior leaders will be sure that everyone plays this thing out one game at a time.
“We play Westford (8-1-1) next and we recognize that they are a great team as well,” said Boschetto. “I like our chances against anybody and I think our guys have learned their lesson earlier this season about underestimating teams.”
One thing is for sure, after putting every other team on notice this week, nobody will be underestimating the Buccaneers.
Games of the week
No. 12 Oliver Ames at No. 3 Weymouth, Monday, 6 p.m. – The Wildcats have a tough enough league schedule every year in the Bay State, but they do not shy away from solid nonleague action. The 12th-ranked Tigers will put them to the test in a battle of unbeatens.
No. 7 St. John’s Prep at No. 9 Danvers, Monday, 6:30 p.m. – City bragging rights are on the line as another nonleague battle of ranked teams highlights Monday’s action. Eric Martin will surely draw triple coverage from the Eagles, so Danvers will need others to step up, and they are plenty capable of doing just that.
Duxbury at No. 17 Hingham, Tuesday, 1 p.m. - Both teams come in without a loss on their league slates. The Green Dragons (5-1-3, 4-0-3) will look to keep pace in the Keenan Division of the Patriot League with a win over the Harbormen (6-0-2, 5-0-2), who have not allowed a goal in their last four games.
Reading at No. 18 Winchester, Thursday, 3:45 p.m. – After starting the season 0-3-1, the Rockets have come on strong, winning their last seven games. A big test of where they truly stand will come in the form of Middlesex Liberty rival Winchester, who beat them, 3-2, back in early September.
No. 4 New Bedford at No. 15 Dartmouth, 6 p.m. – If it’s not the game of the week, then it is most definitely the rematch of the week as the Whalers (9-1-1) look to avenge their only loss of the season. The Indians (10-0-1) have the blueprint on how to beat New Bedford and will look to remain undefeated while continuing to prove us pundits wrong with our rankings.
Craig Forde can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow him on Twitter @BeyondFenway.