By Max Clifford
Hometown Weekly Reporter
As the 2023 MIAA boys soccer season approaches, the Dover-Sherborn Raiders will look to build on a 2022 campaign in which they finished 10-5-1 and advanced twice in the postseason before falling to the eventual runners-up in Dedham.
The team’s first taste of intersquad competition pitted the Raiders against the Redhawks of neighboring Natick on Friday afternoon. The two teams weathered late summer showers in a scrimmage that left Dover-Sherborn head coach Joe Gruseck with a host of positive takeaways.
Though the game was an exhibition and the final result is not official, the Raiders were able to put two shots into the back of the net in rapid succession. “We haven’t really gotten to that phase. It was interesting to see how that played out today,” said Gruseck. “Obviously we’ve got some work to do, but the early signs of what these guys are capable of doing on their own without thinking about it or working on it is impressive.”
The second Dover-Sherborn goal of the afternoon, a strike from the edge of the penalty area, came off the foot of center midfielder Jack Martin, a player that Gruseck expects to facilitate ample offensive opportunities for the Raiders.
On the other end of the field, the goalie duo of Gavin Lynch and Ollie Edmund kept Natick off of the scoreboard. Lynch erased multiple threats in the first half of the match, including a penalty kick that resulted in three saves in front of the net.
After a 2022 season in which the Raiders allowed three goals just three times, Gruseck expects his netminders to be a strength once again. “Gavin was a first year goalie for us last year… he did a lot of on the job training and really did a nice job” he said. “Now he and Ollie are a tandem. They play off of each other and push each other and we’re really benefitting from it.”
After falling just shy of their championship aspirations a year ago, Gruseck will look to continue building on the backs of his players and the culture he has helped build. He applauded his junior varsity coaches as well as leaders in past years for setting the right tone and preparing young players to move up to the varsity level.
The Raiders officially open their season on Tuesday, September 5 when they travel to Bellingham for a 4:30 match.