Despite a youthful roster, the Stoughton high boys' soccer team returns a talented core, looking to make an improvement upon last year's one-win season.
The Knights headlined by junior captain Michael Gallagher and senior captains Mike Paukner and Sheldon Oliveira have the potential to content for a spot in the state tournament.
Along with a talented freshmen core, the poised Knights look to be a team that will give opposing teams a tough time every time they take the field.
Last season's record: 1-16-1
First game: Stoughton opens its season Friday, September 7 at home against Attleboro.
Head Coach: Martyn Emery (first year at Stoughton High)
"I played semi professionally in England and coached at both professional academies at Birmingham City and Derby County," Emery said.
He also coached with the Mass Premier Soccer Club.
"I am hoping to bring an enthusiasm for the game and help the players both individually and as a team. Giving them a better knowledge of the game and allowing them the freedom to express themselves."
Captains: Junior Michael Gallagher, Senior Mike Paukner, Senior Sheldon Oliveira
Burning Question: Who replaces Mike Vulakh (class of 2012) in goal?
Senior Michael Cardoso stated, "We have two young goalies who are going to be playing their first varsity action this year. I like the way they have played so far in practice. They should be a very useful asset to the team."
Outlook: The Knights will look to capitalize on a very young and athletic soccer team. Junior captain Mike Gallagher has some bold expectations heading into the season.
"Our goal without a doubt to make the tournament. We have a lot of things we need to improve on from last year but we fully expect to make the tournament this year. We have some strong leaders on this team. Between Mike Paukner, Sheldon Oliveira, Luc [Pierre-Louis] and myself we have a strong backbone," he said.
"We also have some strong freshmen support from Josh Mitchell...and Kyle Silverman. I look for these incoming freshmen to be key players on this team."
Despite it being Coach Emery's first year at the helm here in Stoughton, the expectations are for an improvement for the Knights heading into the season.
"I am looking for the team to improve on previous season's records and be competitive in every game," Emery said. "It's important for realistic goals for the team be set by both the coaches and players, not looking to get ahead of ourselves. Expectations will change once the season is up and running."
The Knights will look to continue to capitalize on what has served them best over the last couple of years. The Knights have a strong defense and mid-field heading into the 2012-2013 season.
"Our major strength is the willingness of all to work hard and want to improve," Emery said. "We have a good mixture of experienced seniors with some very good younger players coming through. We need to improve our understanding of the roles and responsibilities of each position, also making sure we have the ability to play under pressure."
Emery continued, "We have a good core of players who are going to be important this season. Luc Pierre-Louis has been very impressive in the preseason so expectations will be high for him. Last year's freshmen [this year's sophomores] Melvin Amado, Evan Schulze and Dylan Freitas will be under more pressure to preform at a high level after their performances last year. I am hoping all of them will have used their first year experience and take their game to the next level."