by Jim Feton, Enterprise
BROCKTON – The Massasoit Community College men's soccer team will open the 2018 season the same way it ended last season.
After losing to Mercer County Community College in the National Junior College Athletic Association Northeast District tournament last November, the Warriors will host the Vikings on Saturday at noon.
Mercer County, ranked ninth in the NJCAA Division 1 preseason poll, will have already played four games when it arrives at Massasoit and was 2-0 entering Wednesday.
"It's a huge competition for us right away,″ said Warriors coach Rui Estrela, now in his 13th season.
Massasoit lost to Mercer County, 2-0, in Rochester, N.Y., last Nov. 4, and the Vikings went on to win the district before losing in the second round of the national tournament in Arizona.
The Warriors finished 10-6 last season and won the Region 21 championship for the fifth straight year and the 10th time in 12 years with Estrela as the coach.
Swann led the way with 19 goals and 43 points while Zaffonato was second with 10 goals and 30 points and had a team-best 10 assists, earning a spot on the All-Region 21 team.
"That is huge to have them back, especially after getting so much experience under their belts,″ said Estrela. "They are both very versatile and give us leadership. They are going to be a big plus for us.
"Charlie didn't surprise me. He had a good background coming in and he's comfortable in his role now. Leon's our technical player. He's one of those guys who roams the field.″
Center midfielder Jonathan Carrere also returns, "and we're looking for him to do a lot of things to control the game,″ said Estrela.
Darcy Guimaraes of Rockland had three goals and four assists and brings experience to the outside midfielder spot while center back Ismael Lobo of Brockton appeared in eight games this year but will play a larger role.
"He has really improved this year and we're excited about him on that back line,″ said Estrela of Lobo.
Freshman David Issac, who was part of the Brockton High state championship team last season, will be the Massasoit goalkeeper.
"He's a very good shot blocker,″ said Estrela. "He has a good work ethic and has good ability.″
The Warriors outscored opponents, 59-27, last season and Estrela thinks the offense will once again be potent with Swann and Zaffonato leading the way.
"I think offense is going to be our strong point this year,″ he said. "We have a lot of firepower. That should be a big thing for us.
"If we can put it all together, we should have a better squad overall.″
After opening against Mercer County, Massasoit heads to western New York Sept. 8 and 9 to face Monroe Community College and Bryant & Stratton.