by Jim Fenton, The Enterprise
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BROCKTON – There was a mad scramble to find enough players to field a team when he became the Massasoit Community College women's soccer coach.
Jim Stapleton took over the program in the summer of 2014, just weeks before the start of preseason camp, and he had to do some quick recruiting.
"My first year, we had four or five players, I think, going into camp,″ said Stapleton.
The Warriors got things together in a hurry and went 9-7 that season, losing to Holyoke Community College in the Region 21 championship game.
Fast-forward to this season, and numbers are not a problem for Stapleton and Massasoit.
There are nearly two dozen players on the roster as the team prepares for the opener on Sept. 5 against MassBay Community College.
The group includes four players who were part of a team that went to the Region 21 title game last season, losing to Holyoke, 2-1, in overtime.
"We've never had this many players,″ said Stapleton, now in his sixth season. "Every year has been a bit more. The major thing is a lot of the players know someone. If they have fun, they're going to tell a friend and then they'll tell a friend.
"We've been moderately successful, getting to the finals three times, so that helps.″
The returning players include Anya Welch-Bastone, of Avon, who made the All-Region 21 first team as a freshman, Dineida Gomes, of Brockton, Jane Riley, of Bridgewater and Brooke Newcomb, of Whitman.
Welch-Bastone, a graduate of Norfolk Agricultural High School, had a team-best 21 goals and was second on the team with 51 points.
"She has speed and the ability to hit the ball properly with her left foot or right foot,″ said Stapleton. "Her ability to get open is very good. She just outruns certain teams. She is a nice player to have back.″
Gomes started 11 games and had three goals and five assists and figures to have an increased role.
"She was an outside halfback and we're trying to figure out where to put her because she's a very dominant player,″ said Stapleton.
Riley came off the bench in 14 games while Newcomb suffered a season-ending injury and appeared in just eight games, getting four assists, and "is a steady player,″ according to Stapleton.
Luana Alves, of Brockton, a Southeastern Regional graduate, had a goal and three assists in 12 games in 2017 and returns to the Warriors this season.
A pair of freshmen, Shelby Newcomb, of Whitman, and Michelle Gomes, of Brockton, are the goalkeepers.
The newcomers who should be contributors include Rossana Silva, Tosy Lubrano and Felisberta Tavares, all of Brockton; Gisele DiGirolamo, Katie Laun, of Holbrook; Rachel Cornell, of Bridgewater; Becca Chandler and Oksana Sullivan.
Massasoit's scoring should come from Welch-Bastone, Chandler, Sullivan and Tavares. The Warriors will have to fill a void left by last year's leading scorer, Samantha Baston, who had 20 goals and 13 assists.
Massasoit also lost All-New England players Alex Santos, Morgan Acorn, Betty Blake and Amanda Sesock, all of Whitman.
Stapleton sees a deep team that has versatility as he tries to get past Holyoke, which has won seven straight regional titles and 10 of the last 11. Massasoit handed Holyoke its first loss by a Massachusetts opponent in nearly seven years last fall during the regular season.
"The problem we have right now is we've got a lot of versatile players and I have to figure out what we're going to do,″ said Stapleton. "Gisele can play anywhere and we have a few players like that. We have to figure out where they'll be.
"I don't know the formation yet. Last year we had certain limitations. We had 11 or 12 who played. It's more of a challenge this year because I don't know who's going to go where. The skill set and athleticism is different.″
Massasoit plays three of its first four games at home, including a Sept. 14 meeting with Holyoke.