By Quinn Keating, contributing writer
The Nantucket High School boys’ soccer season recently came to a close; the Whalers’ final game being a devastating 3-4 loss against Wahconah Regional High in Dalton in the Berkshires. However, the team is feeling quite good, contrary to what this closing loss may lead one to believe, because it was one of only five losses the team faced all year. Nantucket finished the fall 2021 season with a 13-5-1 record: 13 wins, 5 losses, and 1 tie.
The team worked really hard this year to achieve a season with such a high win rate, and to get to where they ended up. Boys soccer coach Richard Brannigan II held the boys accountable for attending and participating in practices every day after school. The players’ only breaks were on weekends, and there was no shortage of effort on their part.
The Whalers’ season’s already admirable record becomes even more impressive when you realize the disadvantage they were at in their games; Nantucket, a division four soccer school, played in a league with threes and twos. Sports divisions are created based on the size and budget of a school, as well as their record and shown skill in previous years. Not all teams in this league were division two or three besides NHS; Wahconah was also a division four school. This year’s team of soccer Whalers had to have had something pretty special in order to get as far as they did playing against teams in higher divisions.
With that said, there were a few things the team could work on. One of the team’s captains, Treyce Brannigan, a junior, gave his opinion that improvements could be made “on finishing, and 50/50 balls, as well as one on ones defensively and offensively.” 50/50 balls are balls that one member of each team arrive at the ball at the same time. Thus each player has a 50/50 chance of getting the ball. To win this challenge, a player must have skilled and practiced foot work, or the guts to go in stronger than the other player. Teammates to pass the ball to are also key to obtaining possession in a situation like this. Other than that, he says that the team did really well and that their determination went unmatched throughout the season.
Looking at the team’s score, it is clear that they also do better at home. They have a 8-1-1 record when home, but a low 5-4 record when travelling to play the opposing team on their field. This could be because of differences in field substance. The NHS soccer fields are natural grass, while many other high schools play on turf fields. It could also be the disadvantage of travelling hours on a boat to play a game. While most teams simply drive from their high school to another, and within Massachusetts, which is a small state, the Whalers have to take the ferry every time they need to play another team in an away game. This can be stressful and also just takes more time, which is time that could be spent prepping, or in school. Boys soccer players are often pulled early from school for away games. When playing on Nantucket, these disadvantages both become advantages. The other team has to play on a field of an unfamiliar texture, and they have to take an unusually long trip and take a boat in order to play.
This season, the boys soccer Whalers quickly became one of the most resilient and difficult teams to beat in their league. Especially after a year without playing, their record is impressive. All players contributed evenly in their own different ways, as best they could. In the end, that determination and teamwork helped to lead the team to play a successful and fun season.