by Jim Fenton (The Enterprise)
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BROCKTON – Scan the Massasoit Community College women's soccer roster, and a half-dozen players from one prominent high school program can be found.
The Warriors, off to a 7-3-1 start, have a definite Whitman-Hanson Regional High connection going this fall.
Nearly one-third of the 19-player roster is made up of W-H graduates, including two Massasoit sophomores and four freshmen.
The Panthers have been a dominant high school team with coach Dave Floeck compiling a 329-92-35 record in nearly two and a half decades, some players who were in his program are now helping the Warriors find success.
"They have a great program over there, obviously,″ said Massasoit coach Jim Stapleton. "The players we have from there, they're all good players.
"They can score, they get to practice, they work hard. They're good kids. They know how to do things the right way.″
The W-H contingent includes a pair of sophomore forwards from Hanson, Alexandra Santos, who played soccer as a freshman and sophomore in high school, then concentrated on track & field, and Amanda Sesock, who did not play soccer in high school.
The group also features four Whitman residents and members of the W-H class of 2018 – goalkeeper Katie Amado, defenders Betty Blake and Morgan Acorn and midfielder Brooke Newcomb, who is out for the season after suffering an injury and had four assists in six games.
The four freshmen were part of teams that went 20-2-1 and lost in the Division 1 state semifinal round to Central Catholic, 2-1, in 2016 and was 18-2-2 and reached the Division 1 South semifinal round before losing to Newton South last fall.
Now, all six players are together on the Massasoit campus, less than 15 minutes from the high school they all attended.
"To have all of us together is great,″ said Santos, who has nine goals and seven assists after getting team highs of 13 goals and 30 points as a freshman. "We know how we all play, we know how to keep engaged with each other. We had stories to tell about the old times and it's good to remember that.″
Santos and Sesock, who has seven goals and six assists, were the first former Panthers to arrive last fall.
For Santos, it was a return to the sport after spending the final half of her high school career with track & field, and she has flourished with the Warriors.
"I wanted to do it here for fitness, to stay in shape, but then I found great excitement for the game and it made me happy to play again,″ said Santos. "It was a great feel, great to get to know everybody, great to represent the team.″
Sesock, who played soccer in town leagues, got back into soccer when she enrolled at Massasoit last year. But she tore an anterior cruciate ligament after scoring a goal in six games with four starts in 2017 and is now healthy and starting.
"It's fun. I like it a lot,″ she said. "I think we (the W-H graduates) play better together. I didn't play with them in high school, but I know how they play.″
Now, they are Massasoit teammates, helping put together a winning season. The Warriors recently ended a 28-game winless streak against Holyoke Community College.
"I played with Morgan, Betty and Brooke since we were babies,″ said Amado, who has a 1.88 goals against average with four shutouts. "I would never imagined we'd be together this far.
"It's great to watch them all grow up as players and adapting as much as I am to college soccer. I didn't think we could get much closer, but we've gotten a lot more closer playing at the collegiate level.″
Amado was a backup to Skylur Kuzmich, now a W-H senior, and did not get much playing time in high school. But she has taken over the goalkeeper job at Massasoit and has four shutouts.
"I never thought I would play soccer again,″ said Amado. "It's crazy. I never thought I would see the field here. I didn't get much playing time in high school. It's awesome to play again and get all 90 minutes in. It's a great feeling.″
Blake, who has nine goals and five assists, tore an ACL in the fourth game of her senior season at W-H last fall but is back playing as a starter for the Warriors.
"Being at Whitman-Hanson, it gets you ready for the opponents you're going to be facing, the competition here,″ she said. "You don't face easy teams in high school and that gets you ready for the college level.
"It's nice to keep winning. To come from a program that is so successful, it'd be weird if I went somewhere with a losing streak.
"To be here (with the others), we know what each other's strengths are and that makes it a lot better.″
Acorn, a sweeper, has started all 10 games after being a reserve at W-H in her senior year.
"I was a bench player last year, so it's nice to be able to get some playing time and play in front of Katie again,″ said Acorn, who has one assist. "I like it because we're so used to each other. I've played in front of Katie pretty much since I was five years old. I know where Katie is going to go. I know what Katie wants me to do. I'm going to protect her my whole time out there.
"Me and Betty communicate really well. Me and Alex have a fun relationship. Amanda, I played with her when I was younger, but I haven't played with her for a while so it's nice. Brooke, I played for her dad (Mike, in a youth league).″
Massasoit has had losing records in five of the past seven years, but a talented and deep roster that includes the Whitman-Hanson connection has the Warriors pointed in the right direction.
"It helps to know what it feels like to win,″ said Amado. "We just keep winning here and it's a great feeling and I want to keep it up.″