When the ball is nestled at the feet of Brandon Jones , the Milton Academy senior defines patience.
Jones, a center back, reads the field well and picks his passes intelligently. Often times, those passes are targeted for Jeremy Verley , a shifty junior central midfielder who dices up opposing defenses with ease.
The two have impeccable chemistry, yet there is little verbal communication.
When a run by the 5-foot-11-inch Verley is in its infancy, Jones knows exactly where his teammate will want the ball, and puts it there, initiating the attack.
The two share a valuable bond.
Jones, a native of Bermuda, and Verley, a 17-year-old Jamaican, have competed for their country’s respective national teams at the U17 level. And they squared off as foes, not teammates last fall, when Jamaica cruised to a 6-2 victory.
In the time since, the two have created a prolific combination for an Independent School League squad that is already very skilled, and off to a 4-1-1 start this fall.
“It’s always good to have someone that has played at a similar level because you build that sense of chemistry on the field,” said Verley.
“I don’t really have to call him to give me something, he knows where I want it, and to have someone at that level with you can only allow you to play faster and help the team play faster. We talk to the guys on the team and we tell them what we do and they take heed to it and it ultimately helps the whole team.”
Jones and Verley had been part of the international circuit prior to their time in Milton. But the CONCACAF qualifier last September was arguably the biggest stage for both to date.
Regardless of the setting, they possess a quiet and mellow disposition. There is never a rush to get rid of the ball, their vision and IQ for the game is mature and refined, and there is a high level of precision with each move. Verley is Milton’s set-piece specialist, for example, getting the nod almost any time there is a free kick. As he sets up his shot, his focus, along with his precise and consistent execution, is a threat for any keeper.
Compared to the international stage, the ISL is a slower game for the pair, allowing them to make those level-headed moves.
“I find that playing in the ISL, we’re able to have more time with the ball and really enjoy the game,” said Verley. “With the higher-paced games, sometimes you’re so caught up in the moment that you don’t get a chance to enjoy the soccer.”
That composure, according to Milton Academy coach Chris Kane, results in a calming presence.
“Certainly you want people to live in the moment and not get overwhelmed,” said Kane. “And those guys that have played in very professional and high-level settings and had to manage that moment, when we’re playing in front of 150 college coaches against [Berkshire Academy] that has won four of the last five titles and been a rival for us, that’s a moment they’re ready for.”
And they are ready too to lean on each other in trying moments.
“Having someone who understands what it’s like and has a shared experience that you have, you can always confide in him if you have something on your mind,” said Jones, who is attracting the interest if Division 1 college programs, including the Ivies.
“If you have a big match coming up, they can help you get your mind ready for that. And having somebody who has been in your shoes and has done it himself is really, really helpful.”
■ Somerville, ranked second in this week’s Globe Top 20, continues to make waves in the Northeastern Conference. Last Wednesday, the Highlanders beat conference rival Marblehead, 6-0. On Friday, Somerville cruised to an 8-0 win over Methuen, a smaller school out of the Merrimack Valley Conference. Somerville is looking the part of a team that could make another run in Division 1 North.
■ Mansfield, which moved up six spots to No. 9, continues to make strides in the Hockomock Conference. The Hornets earned a 3-1 win over King Philip last Thursday, and look to be fighting with Oliver Ames. Looming large is a 1-0 double-overtime loss to Attleboro in the first round of the 2016 Division 1 South sectional.
■ After finishing 11-4-3 a year ago, Arlington has shown few signs of slowing this go-around, starting 5-0-1 while outscoring foes, 11-2.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Matt Alvarado, Oliver Ames: In a 3-1 win last Thursday over Taunton, the senior forward found the back of the net twice.
Bryan Cedano, East Boston: As the Jets (4-0-2) lead the Boston City League, this junior goalkeeper is proving pivotal. Last week, he pitched shutouts against Boston International and Boston Tech.
Sancho Maroto, Lexington: This junior forward continues to be the main target for the defending Division 1 champions.
James McCully, Nauset: The senior forward is the leading man for the defending Division 2 champion Warriors (7-1). He’s chasing his father’s single-season school scoring record of 39 strikes. McCully had 38 last fall.
Spencer Royal, Concord-Carlisle: The senior striker and captain was held off the scoresheet in last Thursday’s 1-1 draw with Wayland, though is ever dangerous for the Patriots (3-0-3).
GAMES TO WATCH
Tuesday, Andover at North Andover (7 p.m.) – The eighth-ranked Scarlet Knights (7-1) host their Merrimack Valley Conference rivals.
Wednesday, Sharon at Mansfield (3:45 p.m.) – With Oliver Ames and King Philip closely trailing the Kelley-Rex leader, Mansfield (6-0) will look to create separation.
Wednesday, Sandwich at Nauset (4 p.m.) – In a battle of top Atlantic Coast teams, Nauset will look to build on its 7-0-1 start.
Friday, St. John’s Prep at Catholic Memorial (3:30 p.m.) – The visiting Eagles (6-0-2) will travel to face a struggling Catholic Conference rival (1-4-0).
Saturday, Brooks at Middlesex (3 p.m.) – Brooks (3-0-2), a finalist in last year’s NEPSAC Class B Championship, will look to defend its place atop the Independent School League standings.Correspondent Jonathan Sigal also contributed to this story. Logan Mullen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.