Focus and finish: As postseason looms, Whitman-Hanson rising to the occasion once again

Whitman-Hanson's Kelsee Wozniak (10) threads her way through the defense during a recent 3-0 win.
Whitman-Hanson's Kelsee Wozniak (10) threads her way through the defense during a recent 3-0 win.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

At the conclusion of every practice and game, four questions await the Whitman-Hanson girls’ soccer team, taped to the inside of every player’s locker, courtesy of 24-year coach Dave Floeck.

“Were you coachable?”

“Did you give your absolute best, which is 100 percent?”

“Were you a good teammate?”

“Did you have fun?”

“We look at them every day after we come back from practice and it gives us the ability to reflect on them and focus on what we’ve been able to accomplish throughout the day,” said senior captain Courtney Woodward.

At 13-1-1 after a 1-0 win at Duxbury on Tuesday night, and with yet another postseason berth locked in, the Panthers have accomplished quite a bit. With a 11-0-1 record in league play, W-H has clinched another Patriot League Keenan crown.


Whitman-Hanson’s Nora Manning (20) and teammate Olivia Borgen (9) celebrate a goal during a 3-0 win over Silver Lake. The victory gave head coach Dave Floeck his 350 career win.
Whitman-Hanson’s Nora Manning (20) and teammate Olivia Borgen (9) celebrate a goal during a 3-0 win over Silver Lake. The victory gave head coach Dave Floeck his 350 career win.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

That extends what has been a high level of success under Floeck’s watch, with three Division 1 South titles, 20 straight non-losing seasons, and a sterling 352-95-38 record.

The starting point is youth soccer.

“That’s where these kids at a young age are learning the game for the first time, and developing a love for the game,” said Floeck, who was a four-year player at East Bridgewater High and then Bridgewater State University.

“If you can do that in the young kids at the youth group, then these kids are encouraged to go out and seek higher levels of play.”

Helen Iannone has seen first-hand the influence of the youth program. She was the girls’ director for Whitman Youth Soccer for eight years before taking over as league president.

“[The youth program] teaches kids the love of the game, good sportsmanship,” said Iannone, who has known for Floeck for 25 years and has had four children go through the Whitman-Hanson program, with another child an incoming freshman in 2020.


“We’ve been blessed with a lot of excellent coaches that volunteer endless hours.”

The high school holds clinics for youth soccer in which the Panther players serve as mentors.

Senior captain Zoe Cox, a four-year varsity player, is a product of the youth program.

“I’ve coached for [youth teams] too and just seeing them from when they first start to growing up, I can see the improvement between not only myself, but also the kids that are there now,” Cox said.

Whitman-Hanson’s Dave Floeck got his 350th career win recently.
Whitman-Hanson’s Dave Floeck got his 350th career win recently.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

In addition to taking note of the development at the youth level, Whitman-Hanson athletic director Bob Rodgers believes the path to success starts with Floeck and his staff.

“From the time that they’re little girls they come up to the high school to watch the high school team play and they say, ‘Hey I want to be great at soccer’ or ‘I want to be a part of that some day,’ ” said Rodgers. “That is kind of planted and rooted in the camps that Coach Floeck runs.”

Tom Zamagni , a 35-year Hanson resident, has been alongside Floeck all 24 years as an assistant. He has also had three daughters suit up for the Panthers.

“[Floeck] is an incredible coach as far as teaching skills and figuring out what we didn’t do yesterday very well and then coming up some imaginative, unbelievable drills,” said Zamagni.

“He’s well above what I would expect most high school coaches to be at with the level he’s at with these kids and I’m sure that’s a big part of our success.”


Floeck, now in his 17th year as an assistant principal at the high school, and 29th overall, is quick deflect credit to others.

“We’re really happy with the level of consistency we’ve been able to maintain in the program and a lot of that credit goes to the individual players that we’ve had come through and the coaching staff that I’ve been blessed to have for all this time just really makes a huge difference,” he said.

The quest for another D1 South title and beyond kicks off next week.

Corner kicks

There is just over a week remaining in the regular season, but there a number of must-see matchups left on the slate in EMass.

On Thursday, second-ranked Natick will host No. 6 Brookline in a rematch of last year’s Division 1 state semifinal. The teams enter the game both undefeated in the Bay State Conference with the Redhawks at 8-0-2 and the Warriors at 6-0-4.

Yet another clash looms Monday that could decide the BSC’s Carey Division when Natick travels to Wellesley. Despite a 3-0 nonleague loss to Division 4 contender Dover-Sherborn on Monday, Wellesley was 8-1-3 in conference play, including 1-1 ties with Brookline and Natick.

“Two years ago this team won two games,” Wellesley coach Roger Bothe said after the D-S loss Monday. “They were 2-13-1. The fact is that we’re going to end with a double-digit win season. And we’re going to be in the state playoffs . . . I’m really, really proud of the girls and the way they’ve turned it around. They’ve had a great year.”


Bothe credited the team’s aggressive style with keeping even some of the most skilled opponents on their heels.

“Just our overall going at teams, rather than sitting back this year,” Bothe said. “Really, our ethos, and our culture, this year trying to put one-, two-touch passes – playing that style of soccer – has really paid dividends.”

Olivia Francis and Bridget Noonan have anchored the midfield, with Abby Comella using her immense speed to hold down the back in front of stalwart goalie Ella Kahrl.

“We have a bunch of athletes,” Bothe said. “It’s not necessarily like you are pinning it on the carpet for 90 minutes because those aren’t the kids we have. But we put out a good product every game. It’s fun to watch. It’s exciting.”

Games to watch

■  Thursday, Lynnfield at No. 19 Masconomet, 3:45 p.m. — The top spot in the Cape Ann Kinney Division will be on the line in Boxford. These squads opened the season Sept. 4 when the Chieftains won a 5-3 shootout.

■  Thursday, North Andover at Andover, 4 p.m. — A border battle could determine the Merrimack Valley Conference Large crown. The Golden Warriors took the first meeting, 1-0, on Sept. 26.

■  Thursday, No. 12 Norwell at No. 4 Whitman-Hanson, 6:30 p.m. — Two of the state’s hottest programs are set to clash.

■  Thursday, No. 15 Newton South at No. 18 Concord-Carlisle, 4 p.m. — The Lions’ surprise push for a Dual County League title must still go through Concord. Newton South, which entered the week on an 11-game unbeaten streak, beat C-C, 2-1, on Sept. 24.


Ethan Nash can be reached at ethan.nash@globe.com.