Anthony Lovati wanted to try something new. He had been a footballer all his life and was still planning to become one next year at university, but he had always been curious about football.
Football normally runs concurrently with its football season in Nauset. The transfer of football from Massachusetts to the current Fall II season due to the pandemic gave Lovati the opportunity to finally try a new sport.
The star midfielder and senior captain quickly turned his skills with a football into a placekicker, punter and occasional defensive back for the Warriors in football.
“I always wanted to play, just to see how it was,” Lovati said. “It’s really fun.”
Lovati entered this season with little football experience. He said he had always been interested in football, but never played it or even watched it on TV before joining the team.
“There wasn’t really any pressure,” Lovati said. “I just have to show up and do my best. It wasn’t like I had to be perfect, because it was my first time, and that really helped me because I wasn’t nervous at all.
Having a soccer player as a kicker is a new experience for head coach Bruce Strunk. Strunk was a coach in Maryland, and while he said a few of his kickers might have played football as kids, state rules here and there prevented high school kids from playing two sports at the same time. .
Lovati had to find a place in a team where many players have been together for years, but Strunk said that wasn’t a problem.
“Forget athleticism – he’s just a great boy,” Strunk said. “He loves it, because it’s something different. He has only known football all his life and he says he is having a great experience.
So far, the conversion into a footballer has worked. Lovati made 3 of 4 extra run attempts, in addition to being the team’s punter and kicker for most of the season.
His efforts helped Nauset claim their first victory of the season last week, a 20-14 win over Falmouth on Senior Night.
“Every week he hits it better and better,” Strunk said. “He was scoring 45-yard field goals in practice yesterday. High school kids just don’t step on the field and do that.
The biggest change from soccer to soccer, Lovati said, is the target height of the ball. Soccer players don’t want to put too much air under their shots for fear of throwing the ball over the goal, but in soccer a high kick or punt is less likely to be blocked, will move further down the field and give teammates more time to cover.
Lovati’s body size compared to her opponents is also a big difference.
“I’m 165 pounds, and that’s pretty big for football,” Lovati said. “In football I am one of the smallest people in the team.”
John Terrio, a volunteer assistant coach at Nauset who has worked with Lovati the most, said that so far Lovati has taken the adjustments well.
“His leg is so strong, which helps him tremendously,” Terrio said. “He is very easy to teach. He listens. He understands.”
Turning a footballer into a placekicker isn’t a new idea, even with Nauset. Nauset 2017 graduate James Tooker played for the soccer team as a freshman but joined the soccer team in his final two years.
The strategy even worked at the college level, notably when Vanderbilt University made history by using Sarah Fuller as a placekicker at the end of its 2020 season.
“Without a pandemic, Anthony Lovati never kicks a high school football game,” Terrio said.
Lovati has been able to try out two traditionally fall sports, and so far neither has had a noticeable impact on the other. He continued to play football with his club side Liverpool FC International Academy in Plymouth, and although it could normally be long days of double training, it didn’t.
Quarantine procedures for COVID-19 could be the main reason for this. Nauset missed his first two weeks of the season due to quarantine, and close exposure with Liverpool also caused a secondary quarantine with that team.
His football season ended Friday night against Dennis-Yarmouth.
“I just decided that I was going to start going back to Liverpool as soon as football was over,” Lovati said.
Football will always be Lovati’s first sport. A native of Provincetown, he took up football around the age of 7 and began his club career with Oceana in Orleans.
It was quick to move on to programs like Cape Cod ReUnited, Crusaders Soccer Club and currently Liverpool, which absorbed the previous two programs into an affiliate program in 2013 and made them a full International Academy team. in 2016.
Lovati’s speed made him an ideal midfielder.
“He’s a very good one-on-one striker, and he gets the air out of the ball when he shoots it,” said Nauset head coach John McCully, who also coaches Lovati at Liverpool.
Lovati was first on the Nauset varsity football team as a sophomore, starting with a team that went undefeated and won a Division 2 state championship. Lovati’s Biggest Goal of the Season , and one of his all-time favorite football memories, came against Walpole in the Southern Section Final, helping the Warriors win 2-1 and qualify for the title game.
“The mother was overwhelmed with emotion about having to leave the stadium,” McCully said. “A friend of mine who is a referee asked, ‘Is everything okay?’ And she says, ‘Yeah, my son just scored. I don’t know what to do with myself.
On this league season, Lovati added: “The captains of this team and the seniors of this team, I’m the age they were when we won it, and even now I still look up to them. .”
Lovati continued his success in his next two seasons, racking up 21 goals and 30 assists as he helped Nauset expand their dominance from the Atlantic Coast League to the Atlantic Division of the Cape Town and Islands League. The team lost on penalties in the South final in 2019 and won the first Atlantic tournament in 2020.
Lovati earned Atlantic All-Star honors last fall.
“He’s got a special skill, and he doesn’t have a bad bone in his body,” McCully said. “Very well liked by his team-mates, his club-mates, and he’s just a fantastic kid.”
Where Lovati will end up next year remains unknown. He has yet to receive an offer from a varsity team, which McCully attributed to the NCAA’s deadlock in recruiting and a lack of varsity showcases last summer, two by-products of the pandemic.
McCully said if it weren’t for the disruptions of the pandemic, Lovati would certainly have found a niche by now.
“A lot of kids missed an opportunity to get in front of coaches who would love someone like Anthony Lovati,” McCully said. “I know whatever schools he applied to, he got into.”
If football doesn’t work out next year, football could be a viable alternative. Terrio said Lovati had already shown the raw talent to get into college and would just need a few tweaks to become a potential recruit.
There are even a few kicking camps he encouraged Lovati to enroll in, just to keep that possibility open.
“If he wants to take the time and get a good workout, he could definitely go to college,” Terrio said. “He is a wonderful, humble and polite child. Whatever he does, I wish him good luck.
Contact Matt Goisman at [email protected]