CLINTON – It looks like just yesterday the Clinton High School boys’ football team were battling Bromfield, a national and regional powerhouse, in the quarterfinals of the Mass Central District tournament, losing a 1-0 decision to the Trojans and finishing with an 8-7-5 record.
This match took place two years ago and so much has happened since then.
In addition to facing a global pandemic, the Gaels have struggled to put together a winning season. In last year’s COVID shortened season, Clinton posted a 2-4-2 pod record.
This season, the Gaels are 2-9-3 overall and are ranked 14th in the Central Mass tournament. Athletic Directors Association (CMADA).
Clinton faced third seed Sutton on Wednesday, but results for that game were not available at time of publication.
Despite the record, Gael’s coach Al DaSilva is pleased with his team’s competitive spirit this season. Of Clinton’s nine losses, six were by three goals or less.
“It was definitely a tough season for us, and we didn’t have a lot of wins in the win column,” said DaSilva. “We have a very young team this year, and I lost several starters because of my diploma.
“We have eight sophomores and four freshmen on this year’s squad, so the future looks really bright,” he said. “They all have a lot of college playing time.
“We work hard in training and try hard, and compete in games,” added DaSilva. “A lot of games were close and we would have lost a goal or two at halftime, but we just couldn’t shake things up in the second half.”
Clinton was beaten 1-0 by neighbor Tahanto and opponent in the Midland-Wachusett division of the D-League, in his last game before the CMADA tournament.
“This game (Tahanto) was typical of our season,” said DaSilva. “It was their senior night and they were fighting for the league championship so it was a big game for them.
“I give credit to our boys, who fought really hard and gave them all they could take,” he said. “I was proud of the way they played.”
The captains this season are seniors Alan Gomez and juniors Carlos Velasquez and Elijah Yurkovic.
Gomez is a midfielder.
“Alan (Gomez) is a great boy, who works hard in training and leads by getting other kids to show up,” said DaSilva. “He helped get other team members to play summer soccer and led the captain’s practices before the season.
“He brings a lot of energy to games and training, and his intensity is unmatched,” he added.
Velasquez is a goalkeeper.
“Carlos (Velasquez) is our main goalkeeper,” said DaSilva. “He’s our starter, but he missed a while with injuries. He is a vocal leader in the field and involved the younger members of the team.
“He runs the games on the pitch and helps the players get in position,” he said. “He keeps everyone’s morale up and has kept us in a lot of close games.”
Yurkovic plays the midfielder.
“Elijah (Yurkovic) prepares the assists for the goal and is very valuable to our success,” said DaSilva. “All the exercises in practice, it is the main motivator. He always volunteers to work with the new kids on the team.
The other seniors on the team are Yanick Aguilar, Joe Marshall, Kauan Regis, Elvis Velez and Justin Trejo.
The other key players are sophomores Raymond Notaro, a midfielder, Marvin Ruiz, a forward, and Thiago Pereira, a defender. Forward Sophomore Edison Hernandez is the team’s top scorer.
“Raymond (Notaro) is the unsung hero of this team and one of the most skilled players,” said DaSilva. “He crafted pieces for us to perform, and showed leadership that way.
“Marvin (Ruiz) is the most energetic player on the team,” he said. “He’s very quick and has thrown a number of shots at the net, and I can’t wait to see what he can do next year.
“Thiago Pereira has always been a striker or a midfielder, but we had a defensive need this year so he was more than willing to help the team in this position,” said DaSilva. “He’s stepped up and played a new position and been left-back for us all year, and did a phenomenal job there.”
If the Gaels do not qualify for next month’s state tournament, DaSilva believes his side will be a force to be reckoned with next year.
“It’s very promising to see that we have these talented young players,” said DaSilva. “They stay and join the system. They have learned many skills this year and continue to grow.
Junior varsity coach is Terry McGuire, while Dino Roffo coaches the college team.