by Ken Brown
MARSHFIELD – The Twinfield-Cabot boys’ soccer team made their first Division IV semifinal in 21 years last fall and head coach Peter Stratman believes he returns a team that is equally talented as he enters his fourth season at the helm.
The Trojans were quite possibly a bounce away from a historic season a year ago, losing to eventual state champion Mount Saint Joseph’s Academy 3-2 in the next to last match of the tournament to end their season. It was still a dream season for Stratman and his squad, setting a school record with 11 wins in their first season in the Division III-rich Mountain League, giving him a 28-12-1 record since taking over the program in 2019. He lost key starters to graduation in Brody Moran, Alec Moran, and Lucas Roberts, but returns a talented core of veteran leadership and a plethora of freshman that have been groomed by Mike Russell at the middle school level. He has a solid 19 players practicing so far this fall and credits the interest in the program to the evolution of a true cooperative and relationship between the two communities.
“Last season was magical in so many ways, but we lost three really pivotal players from that squad that we’ll miss dearly. They were talented soccer players, good people, and great leaders who helped build this program, but they still stay in close contact and that is a testament to the program and culture that we are trying to build here. I love where we are heading with this program, building a culture through a sense of team, sportsmanship, and competitiveness at the varsity level. Every year here I am getting more comfortable, it is more fun, and it is great to see the cooperative between Cabot and Twinfield gain so much momentum. It is such a mutual benefit for the kids, both schools and communities, and it only makes us all stronger. We have a great mix of veteran leadership and young talent this year and top to bottom, this is one of the most talented rosters (skill-wise) I’ve ever coached,” said Stratman.
One of the reasons Stratman might feel that way is the return of his leading goal scorer Meles Gouge. Gouge broke out in a big way as a sophomore, scoring 20 times and assisting on six others, earning him First Team All-Mountain League honors. Also returning will be junior goalkeeper Neil Alexander, who has started since his freshman year and is poised to be one of the better netminders in the division. Silas Robbins rounds out the trio of talented juniors returning for Stratman and the center back adds yet another line of defense to an already stingy defense. T.J. Bernatchy and Frank Castillo are the two lone seniors for the Trojans that possess a lot of skill and leadership qualities that will be needed on a team that has nine freshmen.
“Meles has always impacted the game with his pure athleticism, but now it is the nuances of his soccer skills and understanding of the game through experience, combined with that athleticism that makes him so impactful. He has gotten better every single year and it has been fun watching him work his way into a leadership role for this program. Neil has come so far since being an eighth grader at Cabot wanting to learn how to be a goalkeeper. He is a natural at the position and through camps and hard work has developed into a great keeper and leader. Silas has grown into such a complete player and the way he communicates with teammates and makes them better is impossible not to appreciate. Having two players like that lead from the back end of your defense is a luxury to have. We have a lot of freshman, but they are already so versatile and skilled and it’s a testament to Mike’s work at the middle school level. I think we’ll be very balanced on both sides of the ball, but we have a lot of work to do to gel as a team and create that necessary chemistry to be successful. This is a great group of kids who are all-in on the team and that’s all you can ask for as a coach. As always our goal is to get these kids to develop an absolute love for the game of soccer, create relationships, and memories that will last a lifetime. If we do that, everything else will take care of itself,” said Stratman.
Twinfield-Cabot had their final tune up on Tuesday at Burke Academy and is scheduled to open up the season on the road at archrival Danville on Friday.