LACONIA — Though the 2-0 loss to Gilford on Thursday was the third defeat in a row for Laconia, Coach Joey DeTommaso said he was encouraged by his team's performance and feels good about owning a record of 3-5 halfway through the season.
"I thought we played well," DiTommaso said on Friday. "We had a tough one on Tuesday against Belmont, I really challenged the kids to play with more passion and heart. Yesterday, I thought they showed up."
Losing by only a coupe of goals to Gilford, a perennial D-III powerhouse, is an improvement over last year's result, when the Golden Eagles scored eight times in a shutout win over the Sachems. DiTommaso doesn't just want to end up with a respectable loss, though.
"The mindset and the culture of our program here is that everyone expects us to lose to Belmont and Gilford. Everyone gives us a pass on that," he said. "I don't feel that way."
DiTommaso, now in his second year as head coach of the high school team, sees the Sachems as a team on the rise to a position where they will soon be a peer to teams like Gilford.
"I feel we played our best game yesterday, so that's good," he said. His challenge, as a coach, is to inspire the same level of play for each opponent. "Hopefully, we turned the corner yesterday."
Last year, Laconia finished with four wins and 12 losses, and didn't make the playoffs. This season, the team is shooting for an even record of 8-8, which would be enough for a post-season seed in the highly competitive D-III.
If he can achieve that goal, DiTommaso will be able to continue the momemtum that the team has already built.
Last season, the team bid farewell to only one senior, meaning that nearly the whole varsity team returned. This year, an astonishing 42 boys tried out for the junior varsity team – for the first time in the team's history, players were cut from the JV roster.
The style of play has also changed under DiTommaso. Before, defensemen who felt pressure would simply kick the ball toward the other end. Now, they know to pass to the goalkeeper, if necessary. DiTommaso preaches patience and keeping possession, not "boot-and-chase," which often has the result of handing possession to the opposing team.
As physical education director for Laconia Middle School, DiTommaso is in perfect position to scout for future players. Every student in the city is required to spend three years in his class, and he gets to know every one of them by the time they are ready for high school.
"There are so many really good athletes here that slip through the cracks," he said. I literally have the se kids for three years in P.E., then I get to coach them for four years in high school. It's awesome."
DiTommaso is looking to make a statement with this season, that Laconia is a team that can run with the pack in D III. In the near future, he thinks the Sachems could break out to the front of that pack.
"We're going to be good next year. We're going to be phenomenal next year," he said. "The better we are, the more buzz there is. But we've got to win some games first."
Laconia played at Campbell on Friday night – the results were too late to include in this article – and will travel to Prospect Mountain on Tuesday. The next home game for the Sachems will be at noon on Saturday, Sept. 30, hosting the 3-2-2 White Mountains.
Laconia’s Kaleb Shumway takes control of the ball with Gilford’s Shea Therrien in pursuit on Thursday afternoon. Gilford won the match, 2-0. (Karen Bobotas/for The Laconia Daily Sun)
- Written by Adam Drapcho
- Category: Local Sports
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