(Nov. 2, 2018) The Worcester Prep boys’ soccer team shut out the Salisbury School Dragons, 2-0, last Friday in Berlin to win the Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference championship.
“They played really, really well,” Prep Coach Terry Underkoffler said. “They played defensively organized, defensively intense.”
Underkoffler thought the back three defenders held their ground.
“The Michael [Wehberg]-Henry [Taboh]-Owen [Tunis] combination did really well,” he said. “I thought our holding midfield did a great job containing their central midfield and that was a key element we didn’t do the first two games with them, so that was a tactical change we did.
“We had Graham Hammond, [and] at times Cole Berry or Mason Brown, playing in that defensive midfield spot in front of the back three and they did wonderful,” Underkoffler added.
He said his players broke down Salisbury’s attack so the squad couldn’t organize.
After a scoreless firsts half, Prep sophomore captain Vincent Petrera netted a shot about five minutes into the second half. He tallied his second goal with two and a half minutes remaining in the game.
“Vincent is such a dynamic forward. He’s hard to keep off the scoreboard,” Underkoffler said. “He is just a hard person to stop and our other players up top kept attacking, putting pressure on them. They kept giving us attacking options besides Vincent.”
Prep senior captain, goalie Cooper Richins, recorded seven saves.
Petrera, after the game, said he was excited to win the championship and to be able to lead his team to victory.
“It’s definitely a team effort,” he said. “No one gave up and everyone was working as hard as they could, 110 percent.”
Worcester finished the season with a 12-2-2 record. Several Mallards earned All-Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference awards.
Petrera was named Conference Player of the Year. He broke the school record for goals in a single season during the ESIAC semifinals. He finished the year with 39 goals and six assists.
“It’s a good achievement, but I definitely could not have gotten it without everyone on the team,” Petrera said. “I think the coaching is really good, and just hard work in preseason. We all just continued to work the entire season.”
Petrera, Richins, Wehberg, a freshman, Taboh, a senior captain, Hammond, a senior, and senior Aiden Mullins earned All-Conference honors. Berry, a senior captain, was presented honorable mention accolades.
Mullins was second on the team in scoring with six goals. He also has six assists. Berry and senior Thomas Fager scored five goals each.
Richins recorded seven shutouts with 121 saves in 16 games.
“We improved the whole season. When you go into coaching a season that’s what you hope for,” Underkoffler said. “I have to say, I would not have envisioned us playing this style, this fast, with this intensity after watching them the first four days in August. I would guess we would have been 7-3, 6-4, and hope to get into the playoffs, but they came around.”
The team will graduate 10 seniors, all of whom were major contributors.
“We’ll rebuild again, with a different group, different mix, but hopefully the same formula,” he said. “One thing I love about this school, these players and how they go about their businesses, is that they listen, they try, they implement, they learn, they grow, they’re willing to try different things, and in the end, they just all buy into each other. It’s just a team-first mentality and it’s refreshing.”