NORTH ANDOVER -- Last year, the Brooks boys soccer team took its lumps. Comprised largely of sophomores, Brooks had no shortage of talent, but the young roster simply couldn’t keep up with the bigger, stronger athletes who dominate the Independent School League.
But now? Brooks is the one handing out the beatings.
This fall, Brooks has broken out as one of the most dominant soccer teams in New England. Brooks has started the season a perfect 15-0, outscoring opponents 64-5 while never allowing more than one goal in a single game. The team clinched the ISL title with three games to spare, and the team will be among the favorites to win the New England Championship when the playoffs begin next week.
“We’re just a year older, they were all sophomores last year and you can’t win in this league with sophomores,” said Dusty Richard, who is in his 39th year as coach at Brooks. “Our junior class might be the best we’ve ever had. It’s spectacular, it’s very similar to ‘03 when we won everything and two of them became professionals, it’s that much talent.”
That’s high praise, considering that class featured Charlie Davies, who later made the U.S. Men’s National Team and has now played professionally for more than a decade. But as a group, Brooks is stacked at every position, and three of the team’s difference makers hail from the local community.
Alex Chaban, a senior from Andover and a Bowdoin commit, is the team’s starting center midfielder and is tied for second on the team in points with eight goals and five assists, and Nathan Constantino and Matthew Sciascia, both juniors from North Andover, are starters on the team’s suffocating defense.
All three players were a part of last year’s team that went 6-7-4, and the three agreed that while the experience was tough, it helped mold them into a much better team.
”I think with experience comes more confidence,” Chaban said. “Our team chemistry is through the roof. Everyone loves everyone and it’s been such a pleasure. From where we came from last year, it’s unbelievable, and I’m blessed to be a part of this team.”
As for why they came to Brooks, all three athletes had some kind of connection to the school. Constantino’s mother Tracy is the school nurse at Brooks, so he’s long been familiar with the campus. Sciascia said he was inspired to come by his older brother Michael, who graduated from Brooks in 2012 and won an ISL title in soccer during his career.
”That was one of the main reasons I came here,” Sciascia said. “I wanted to play on this team and go to school here after seeing my brother.”
Chaban didn’t have a family connection, but having previously attended the Pike School in Andover, which tends to send a lot of students to Brooks, he was plenty familiar with the school nonetheless.
”I know a ton of kids who have come here and this was my first school I toured,” Chaban said. “I absolutely loved it, fell in love with it, fell in love with the soccer program and Dusty and [assistant coach] Willie [Waters] and loved it ever since.”
Brooks has two more regular season games to go before the tournament, and the reality that the season is almost over has already begun to set in for the team. Brooks only boasts three seniors — Chaban being one, captain Dylan Steele and Isaiah Godwin being the others — and the juniors have made it clear that they want to make their final games memorable ones.
”Being with these kids an extra year, seeing how much they love playing with our team and how much we have a passion for the game, it’s really sad to see them leave and how we’re going to have to go move on without them,” Constantino said.