The Riders Notebook – Sept 27

 

September 27, 2011

 

United Signs All-New England Defender…

New signing Daniel Antonio Jr. (photo courtesy Massasoit CC)

Mass United has added another piece to its 2012 puzzle with the signing of defender Daniel Antonio Jr. The former standout and captain at Massasoit Community College was named to the All-New England team last season after helping lead the Warriors to the Northeast District Tournament semi-finals. Head Coach Jim Antonakas found Antonio Jr while scouting, “I think he’s a solid defender who will fit right into our plans to strengthen our back line for the upcoming national cup qualifiers as well as the upcoming NPSL (National Premier Soccer League) season.”

The defender is coming off two knee surgeries but says he’s, “recovered now, in shape, and ready to go.” He also expressed excitement about next season, “I can’t wait for the competition … and I can’t wait to start.” Four of Antonio Jr’s teammates were also All-New England last season, highlighting the strength of the Massasoit soccer program, winners of 15 New England championships and two National Junior College Athletic Association national titles.

 

Riders at full gallop…

The Mass United state league squads are both reaping the benefits of returning players and now have 5 games left in their respective seasons. In the Massachusetts State Soccer League, United’s improved play has created the very real possibility of finishing mid-table. The stretch run for the MSSL’ers got off to a great start on Sunday with a 7-0 win over Homenetmen Armenians at Roxbury’s Madison Park High School. Two of their remaining games are as yet unscheduled make-up games with Boston Ethiopians and Homenetmen ; while their next game is against West Africans United this Sunday at 4pm in Tyngsboro at Greater Lowell Vocation Tech.

The Bay State Soccer League team is in a 5-way dogfight for first place and promotion to the BSSL’s first division. A 5-2 win over Boston Gunners has created quite the logjam, with United and the Gunners tied for 4th and two points behind division leaders Analog and Middlesex, who currently holds the tie-breaker on GD, and 1 point behind Milford Portuguese Club. Three of the squad’s next 5 games are against clubs ahead of them in the standings, presenting them with the perfect opportunity grab the top spot.

I’ve put together a more detailed breakdown of both squads’ stretch runs in a special View From Q, out this afternoon.

 

Focusing On Fitness…

Head Coach Jim Antonakas is focusing special attention on conditioning and fitness, United’s true Achilles Heel last season in the NPSL. “We had as much talent as any team in the league but we weren’t in good enough shape. We need every player to be committed to this,” said the improvement-driven coach. The off-season-long approach includes “no-ball practices” and special conditioning sessions run by United’s own Austin Reed. The coach continued, “We’re not going to lose any games next season because we’re tired. No one will out-work us.” Hell yeah, Coach. Hell yeah.