The smile on the face of Juan Foronda widened as he watched his high-powered East Boston boys’ soccer team score yet another goal in a Boston City League matchup against Tech Boston on a windy afternoon last week.
A senior captain, Foronda couldn’t contain his excitement from the sideline during the final goal of an 8-0 win that kept the Jets’ perfect record intact in the City League at 10-0.
“My guys are crazy,” Foronda said, admiring his teammates celebrating. “But I love them.”
Foronda’s journey to East Boston is unique. He grew up playing soccer in Colombia, but moved to East Boston prior to his junior season with his parents and two siblings.
The center back, who raves about his love for his new community, has been a fixture on defense this fall and one of the surprising bright spots for the Jets (12-1, 10-0), ranked 17th in this week’s Globe Top 20.
With the graduation of nine seniors from last year’s 13-1-5 club that won the City League title and reached the D1 North semifinals, coach Lorenzo DiBenedetto expected a rebuilding season.
But with Foronda, prolific goal-scorer Roberto Dubon, and keeper Nicholas Da Silva , a transfer from Malden, the Jets are still the team to beat in the city.
“The first six games on the schedule were really difficult and we thought we were going to be 1-5 to start the season. We were 5-1,” said DiBenedetto, a 1977 alum in his 16th season at his alma mater.
The Jets have excelled with speed, skill, and passing in DiBenedetto’s possession-style system. Through 13 games, East Boston has outscored opponents 59-6, the lone loss a 2-1 nonleague matchup to Brockton in a game the Jets led 1-0.
Against City League opponents, a potent attack has averaged five goals per game, easily handling the two teams right behind them in the league standings, Burke and Latin Academy, by a combined score of 7-2.
Entering the season, scoring was a major question mark with the graduation of City League MVP Walter Flores , a Globe All-Scholastic.
In need of a spark, DiBenedetto moved the skilled Dubon up from his natural defensive position to forward. Dubon, a native of soccer-rabid Honduras, has delivered 21 goals and nine assists in 13 games, capturing the attention of Division 1 college programs.
“[Dubon is] probably the top player in the league,” DiBenedetto said.
“He plays forward when we need to score goals and then we put him back on defense as well.”
In the first five minutes against TechBoston, Dubon showed his ability to score quickly and often, burying a pair of powerful shots for his 20th and 21st goals of the season. Senior forwards Kevin Berrio and Johan Oquedo each have added seven goals.
“This team is a rollercoaster, to be honest,” said Dubon. “We didn’t know what to expect this season. We had our doubts. But, day in and day out, we kept training and our chemistry, it’s all working out this season.”
“Coach tells us the only reason we come to play is to win and that’s everyone’s mind-set.”
DiBenedetto lauded his squad’s chemistry and tight bond, despite the uncertain outlook of the preseason. A wide range of nationalities are represented on the roster, with players from Cape Verde, Jamaica, Colombia, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.
“They really get along well and they enjoy playing soccer together,” DiBenedetto said. “They have one common theme and that’s soccer.”
Balancing the demands of playing soccer at a program with a rich tradition, along with school work and maintaining jobs is an obstacle for the players.
The majority of the players, according to DiBenedetto, work 25-30 hours per week during the season. Foronda works at a restaurant in the Back Bay with dreams of becoming the first person in his family to attend college.
“I look at it like, a job is a thing that I need and soccer is something that I want,” said Foronda. “I want to be something in my life. I want to be a professional.”
DiBenedetto said he works out a specific schedule with each player so they are able to attend work and be present for games and practices.
“I have an understanding with them and they can give me game time or practice time and I’ll work out their schedule with work. A lot of them have aspirations to go to college.”
The Jetshave the feel of a team capable of accomplishing special. Eastie can clinch its second straight BPS crown along with the top seed in the City tourney, with a win over O’Bryant on Tuesday.
And then the focus turns to the D1 North tourney. The Jets have not forgotten their 2-1 loss to St. John’s Prep in the semis.
“Last year hurt us,” Dubon said. “Till this day, if anyone brings up last year my mood goes down. Hopefully we can bring that back home. I feel confident about this team.”
■ Saturday, North Andover was dealt its first loss of the season, and yielded goals in a game for the just the second time this season in a 3-1 loss to Somerville, who got a pair of goals from captain Alexi Figueroa and one from Pedro Olimpio .
Somerville coach George Scarpelli said the key to cracking North Andover’s defense was to use the perimeter.
“They play with such discipline in the middle,” Scarpelli said. “We had to focus on using the outside. We called a timeout about 20 minutes in, and opened it up.”
After that timeout, the Highlanders (8-4-2) reeled off three goals in 10 minutes. Figuroa got the first off a corner kick, Olimpio’s goal gave Somerville the lead, and Figuroa sent a shot just inside the upper corner of the goal for the third tally.
Scarpelli said he scheduled three strong non-conference games to assess his team’s readiness for the postseason. The first two, against Brockton and seventh-ranked Framingham, resulted in 6-2 and 3-1 losses, respectively.
“North Andover and Framingham, they’re two of the best teams in the state,” Scarpelli said. “This was a good game for us to gauge what we have going into the tournament.”
North Andover allowed its first goal of the season last Thursday in a 1-1 draw against Chelmsford.
■ Arlington has had a tough run in Middlesex League play this season, but the Spy Ponders (6-4-3, 1-4-2 Liberty Division) received a huge boost handing top-ranked Lexington (10-1-3, 4-1-2) its first loss of the season in a 2-0 stunner on goals by seniors Sean Connelly and Declan Dolan .
That rough 1-4-2 league mark doesn’t show the fact that all of AHS’ league losses came against top-notch opponents (Lexington, Reading, Belmont, and Winchester). The Ponders reached the D2 state final last last fall before losing to unbeaten Nauset.
■ Nauset still has not lost a game since since 2017 in the state tournament. In their first season in the Cape & Islands League, the Warriors are 12-0-2, their most recent tie on Sept. 26 at Martha’s Vineyard, 2-2. No other team in the league has won more than six games overall.
■ Oliver Ames did not start a single returning player last season and finished 7-4-5, losing to Walpole in the first round of the D2 South tourney. With a little seasoning, OA is 12-1 this season and sits atop the Hockomock Kelley-Rex.
Games to Watch
Tuesday, Needham at Framingham, 3:45 p.m. — This is not just a matchup of Top 10 team; it’s a clash between the Bay State Conference’s Herget and Carey Division leaders.
Thursday, Newton North at Wellesley, 3:45 p.m. — The Tigers visit No. 17 Wellesley as they try to claw their way into the MIAA Division 1 South Tournament.
Thursday, Wayland at Bedford, 4:30 p.m. — The Warriors will look for a much-needed Dual County League win as they visit the sixth-ranked Buccaneers.
Thursday, Norwell at Hingham, 6 p.m. — Unbeaten Norwell visits a strong Hingham squad in a nonleague clash.
Friday, Winchester at Lexington, 3:45 p.m. — Two Top 20 teams meet with first place in the Middlesex League’s Liberty Division on the line.