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Local high school teams share winning traditions, wonderful memories

championship seasons

Season for the ages ends with a state title: Nauset High School Boys Soccer

To win a league title is one thing. To win a state title is another. To complete a run like the Nauset High School boys soccer team did in 2016 is an accomplishment of such prestige it may be decades before another Bay State team comes close to matching it. Last fall, the team completed a 23-0 record while outscoring all opponents 108-1. The first goal the team allowed came in the last game—the state title game against Masconomet. Nauset returned to Cape Cod victorious, winning 2 to 1.

“Our goal at Nauset has always been simple: win the league, make the tournament, and challenge for a state title,” says head coach John McCully. “That’s always the goal. Once the season was going on last year, we knew we had something special, but anything can happen in the tournament. We took it day by day.” McCully credits the leadership of last year’s captains, Ben Mulholland, Hayden Yakola and Jake LaBranche, and the hard work the entire team put in during both the season and the off season. “To be part of our program you have to make a commitment, and you need to make some sacrifices,” McCully says. “This is a special group of kids. They played for each other, they worked for each other, and they believed in each other.”

Following the season, the accolades rolled in. Nauset was named the top high school team in New England and ranked ninth in the country according to USA Today. LaBranche and then junior James McCully, the coach’s son, were named to The Boston Globe’s All Scholastic Team, while McCully was voted MVP of both the state tourney and the state title game—and nearly bested his father’s school record for goals in a season (39). He finished with 38.

LaBranche was also named Gatorade’s Player of the Year for Massachusetts, and he will play soccer this fall at Middlebury College. He commented on what made the team click. “We were all friends, and we had good chemistry,” LaBranche says. “Everyone seemed to come out of their shell when we played soccer.”

Incredibly, Nauset graduated just three starters from last year’s squad and looks to be strong once again in 2017. As interviews for this story were conducted in July, 41 Nauset High players were at a soccer training camp at Keene State College. The theme continues: commitment, practice and hard work.

What does it mean to be a state champion? “What it means to me is that Nauset High School is on the map,” Coach McCully says. “Not only everyone in Massachusetts and New England, but also nationally—everybody knows where Nauset High School is now.” –Matt Gill

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