The Raiders gather for some words of wisdom before the start of their playoff match against Weymouth.
Photos by Wellesley High Athletics and Michael Flanagan
By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
The 2017 fall athletic season was one filled with incredible success for Wellesley High School’s varsity boys soccer team. A 13-2-1 record that included a win over rival Framingham for the first time in seven years resulted in a No. 2 seeding in the South Sectionals. The Raiders took down BC High (4-1) in the first round but had their season come to a heartbreaking end in the quarterfinals, dropping a thriller of a game to Weymouth, 3-2 on penalty kicks.
Obviously, a quarterfinal round exit was not what the Raiders had in mind, especially since the loss surrendered Wellesley the chance to serve up some revenge to arch rival Needham in the semifinals, who eliminated the Raiders from the 2016 postseason.
However, it’d be naïve not to give an incredible amount of credit to the Raiders for how hard they fought this season, as well to the man who led them, eighth-year head coach Tim Mason.
On November 27, the Eastern Massachusetts High School Soccer Coaches Association recognized Mason for his accomplishments and awarded him with the honor of Division I South Coach of the Year.
A humbled Mason, who also serves an assistant coach for the Babson College women, credited his team, saying that the award is really a demonstration of how hard his band of Raiders worked this season.
“It means a heck of a lot,” said Mason. “I know that I am the one that gets the award, but it really is such a team effort. My assistant coaches, Andrew Suttle and Chris Howard, did an awesome job, and I cannot stress enough how important their roles were in our success this season. But really, the players deserve most of the praise – they worked so hard, day-in day-out, and they fully bought in to what we were trying to implement. We played a very possession-based game, and we asked our players to be brave, take risks and trust the system. All of the hours on the practice field, in the classroom, the team dinners and get-togethers were geared towards building a team that was capable of challenging and competing at the highest level, and I think we played at an extremely high level all season, which was reflected in our record.”
As far a favorite memory from the season is concerned, Mason says one that he will always cherish is the way the Raiders came together to honor their group of seniors at Babson on senior night.
“At our team banquet, we voted on our favorite memory of the season, and one of the best moments was our senior night when we beat Milton 9-1. The score line was somewhat irrelevant, but we played the game under the lights and on the turf at Babson, which allowed us to have a senior night game and really celebrate the seniors properly. We don’t have lights at Wellesley, so our senior games are somewhat anti-climatic, so that was a really special night, particularly because five different seniors scored, including three with their first varsity goal.”
Mason also discussed his team’s resiliency after all that they were able to accomplish both individually and as a unit.
“Overall, it was an awesome season,” said Mason. We were Herget champs, scored the most goals in the conference and conceded the fewest, had the league MVP [Ryan Clare] and we were pretty dominant all year. After each of our regular season losses we went on seven-game winning runs right after, which I think showed the strength, character and determination this team had. We were also 5-1 against the Carey teams [compared to 0-4-2 last season], which was an area that we really focused on going into the season. Individual game highlights were probably fairly convincing wins on the road at Needham and Braintree [3-0 and 5-0, respectively] and beating Brookline and Framingham at home [4-2 and 4-3].”
For funny and incisive sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter at @fLAno0, or read his blog at www.flannylive.wordpress.com.