earning 7 shutouts in 8 games will do it

Published November 20, 2020


THE MELROSE Red Raider soccer team have a chance to clinch the ML Freedom division this week. Pictured (foreground) is Parker Thorton and Alex Staples (background.) (Ras Das www.edphotos.com)

WILMINGTON—The Melrose Red Raider soccer team has one game to go after a successful, healthy fall and could clinch the Middlesex Freedom League should they finish their season with a win over Wilmington on Saturday at home.

On November 14, they took a Round 1 win over the Wildcats on the road, 2-0, to improve them to 4-1-3. 

It’s been an unpredictable year for Melrose. But one thing that has been consistent for the Red Raiders has been their lights-out defense. And it was all hands on deck against a competitive Wildcat team. Melrose head coach Dean Serino knew what he was up against. “Wilmington is one of the better teams in the league, and like every game in the Middlesex League, it’s a battle. There are no easy games,” he says. 

Melrose’s record is enough to keep them poised at the top and in a great position to clinch the league. The Red Raiders have enjoyed a jaw-dropping seven shutouts in eight games and have only given up two goals all season. It’s that kind of number that shows the depth and talent of the team. “This is a real, defensive-minded, senior-heavy team of athletic kids,” contends Serino. “They’re a real special collection of boys. Our backs just hunt the ball. They don’t stop.” 

Some of that defense can be credited to senior captains Tom Bergin and Jack O’Hara. “These are two of the smartest players with really bright futures ahead of them,” says their coach. “I expect to see them compete in college in a sport they choose.”

Scoring for Melrose were captain Johnny Lecomte and junior Parker Thorton, who coach Serino acknowledges have both come far to become offensive weapons for Melrose. 

It was another defensive gem from senior goalie Cam McDonough, who has become the team’s mainstay. Says Marino. “He’s a great kid, one of the hardest working players we have. He doesn’t only do it all for us. He wins.” Also showing defensive wattage was senior Sohaib Drif and junior Matt Whelan, who Serino says both played great. 

While there has been much start-and-stop in play among league teams, a challenge in compiling standings, Melrose to their credit has gotten in 9 games this season, which is a big reason to celebrate. They stayed healthy enough to make it to the end. That speaks highly of their discipline and skill. 

“I think there was some uncertainty about standings, like how to interpret them. Maybe no one was really sure how far into the season we’d all get,” Serino chuckles. “I think Melrose is the only school in the league with an uninterrupted schedule. So, I give the kids credit for playing the game in a healthy and competitive fashion.” 

Giving up just two goals for an entire season truly speaks volume for these boys. It’s a fact no league official or player can overlook. “Whether or not we are awarded a league title…all that really matters I think is how these kids perceive themselves,” says Serino. “And they’re remarkable kids, some of the best I’ve coached. They present themselves incredibly and it’s been something that coaches and referees have remarked on over this season. Would a title be great? Sure. But seeing what this team has accomplished this season, in these circumstances? Not every team can do that.” Melrose will battle for a final win on Saturday at 9:00 a.m. at Fred Green Field.