Boys' Soccer - Varsity
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It was another extraordinary season for The Big Red, but unfortunately, for the fourth consecutive year, Taft’s final game of the season was the New England Class A Semi-final. The Rhinos battled valiantly against second-seeded Worcester Academy, but in the end, fell by a score of 2-1. The Rhinos played some of their best soccer of the fall throughout the entire ninety minutes, but set pieces – a long throw-in and a scramble after a free kick – resulted in two Worcester Academy goals. The Rhinos actually took the lead late in the first half, scoring a beautiful team goal that culminated with Benas Babenskas heading home a perfect cross from Cole Torino. However, despite defending with intensity and creating a number of scoring opportunities, The Big Red were unable to advance to the finals. While there was plenty of disappointment after the final whistle, the players can certainly be proud of their accomplishments this season. The boys’ soccer program is immensely appreciative of the legacy that our seniors have left. Thank you to our truly exceptional seniors: Sammed Bawa, Ethan Hindle, Peter Denious, Diky Izmirlian, Cole Torino, Jordan Miller, James Donaldson, C.J. D’Virgilio, Mayan Ewert, and Charlie Shanks. Reflecting on this past season, it was certainly another incredible one for the boys’ varsity soccer team, arguably the best in the program’s history. The Rhinos posted an impressive record of 16-2-1 (7-0 in the Founders League), and emerged as the undefeated Founders League Champions! For the fifth year in a row, Taft earned a spot in Class A New England Tournament, and for the fourth consecutive year, the team reached the semi-finals, falling to the eventual champion in each of those four contests. The program has maintained national notoriety, being ranked as one of the top five prep school soccer teams in the country. Taft began the season with seven consecutive wins, highlighted by wins over top programs like Avon Old Farms (3-0), Deerfield (1-0), and Andover (2-0). After dropping a tight game to Berkshire, Taft produced another seven-game win streak, marked by wins against Kent (3-0), Choate (5-2), and a thrilling 1-0 victory over Loomis to clinch the Founders League title. The Rhinos closed out the regular season by defeating rival Hotchkiss (3-1). In the New England quarter-final, Taft knocked off defending champions Berkshire (1-0), avenging the loss from earlier in the season, before falling to eventual New England champion Worcester Academy in the semi-finals. Taft’s offense was certainly entertaining this season, scoring 63 goals in 19 matches and led by a trio of outstanding central midfielders: Sammed Bawa ‘20 (21 goals, 5 assists), KK Baffour ‘22 (7 goals, 11 assists), and James Donaldson ’20 (7 goals, 4 assists). Benas Babenskas ’21 (5 goals, 1 assist), Nur Adhikarie ’21 (4 goals, 2 assists), Cole Torino (2 goals, 3 assists), and Charlie Shanks (2 goals, 3 assists) added to this dynamic attack. A talented group of defenders – Jayce Fraser ’21, Sebastian Mañon ‘22, Jordan Miller ‘20, and Ethan Hindle ’20 – were excellent all season. Their efforts, combined with those of goalkeepers Chris Murphy ’21 and Brooks Reed ‘21 allowed opponents to tally only 13 goals throughout the entire season, good for less than a goal per game on average. There are plenty of young players eager to build upon this success next year, and the graduating seniors, especially captains Sammed Bawa and Ethan Hindle will leave an incredible legacy. The future of Taft Soccer remains as bright as ever!