Defense and leadership weren’t areas of concern for coach Dennis McCannell and the Colchester High School boys soccer team. Finding ways to score was the Lakers’ big question mark entering the season.
“I did not know what to expect to be honest from the offense,” McCannell said. “That’s something we’ve struggled with over the years in finding a consistent goal scorer.”
Instead of relying on one or two players for goals, the Lakers solved their offensive woes another way: Anybody on the pitch is a threat.
Collin Turner was the ninth Laker to record a goal when the defensive midfielder tucked away a second-half tally in a 4-1 win over BFA-St. Albans on Saturday. In all, 14 players have earned at least a point for a Lakers squad that has pushed their record to 8-0 and sits atop the Division I index standings.
“We don’t have a go-to player. Everyone is chipping in on goals this year. Everyone on the team can score,” said Turner, who hasn’t missed a game despite breaking his wrist over the summer.
The Lakers’ balance was on full display last month when they had seven players score in a 7-1 win over Mount Mansfield. Alec Brigante (five goals, six assists), Brett Nelson (five goals, four assists) and Matt Goudie (four goals, four assists) are the point leaders for Colchester.
“That’s probably the best part of our team this year,” said Tucker Jean, a defender who has a team-high six goals. “There’s not one player you can just mark up on our team. We are not a one-man team.”
And the Lakers have proved timely. In a span of five days, Colchester seized overtime wins over Essex and Middlebury, the latter in a matchup of undefeated teams. Nelson notched the winner against Essex while Goudie sent the home crowd into a frenzy in last week’s second-overtime thriller.
A big reason for Colchester’s success hinges on a defense that includes Jean and goalkeeper Matt McBride, who yielded just six goals in 627 minutes of action. As a team, the Lakers have outscored opponents 31-6.
“We just have a good understanding of each other and we communicate well. We’ll pretty athletic in the back and we can make up for mistakes,” Jean said. “In the past years, we didn’t have the skill to possess out of the back, but this year we can start to move from the back and more possessive-oriented attack.”
Today, Colchester has arguably its toughest challenge yet: playing host to Champlain Valley (6-1-1), which is second in the D-I index. Game time is 4 p.m.
“That will show where we really are as a team, playing CVU,” Turner said. “We just have to keep playing the way we are playing. We have to stay focused.”