Munroe meets new challenges in 20th season as LHS soccer coach

Sep 9, 2020 by

Published September 9, 2020

DANTE GESAMONDO is one of three senior captains along with Jack Bird and Luke Martinho, who have worked hard all summer to prepare for their season which officially starts with practice on Sept. 18. (File Photo)

By STEPHEN MARTELLUCCI

LYNNFIELD — This year’s high school boys’ soccer season in Massachusetts will look much different than in other years due to the Covid-19 crisis. The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) has changes the rules for safety reasons this fall.

Brent Munroe is entering his 20th year as the head coach of the Lynnfield High team. The Pioneers have been one of the elite squads in the Cape Ann League the past few seasons.

Last fall, the Pioneers reached the Division 3 North finals before losing 3-1 to Bedford to end the year at 12-9-1. It was the second year in a row they reached the North final as they lost to Wayland 3-1 two seasons ago.

Fall practice will now start Sept. 18 and games are slated to begin in early October. The season will feature no state tournament and wrap up at the end of November.

Lynnfield will only play CAL games and there is talk of a league tournament to wrap up the season. 

“It is really disappointing,” admitted Munroe, about having no state tournament. “We have made the sectional final the past two years and have a really good team coming back.”

Here are some of the rule changes the MIAA has implemented for soccer this fall: First of all, players will have to play with masks and intentional contact will result in a indirect kick for the other team.

While corner kicks will still be allowed, there will be no throw-ins as the ball will be kicked in instead. Corners will need to be played on the ground as will indirect kicks. 

Goalkeepers are not allowed to kick the ball past midfield unless it rolls over after a bounce.

A rule which Munroe pointed out will be big, is that you cannot head the ball.

“That rule is a huge deal,” stated Munroe. “That will be tough especially defensively when players are trying to clear the ball. I don’t know how officials are going to call that.”

There will also be eight balls around the field, so when it goes out of bounds, the closest ball will be put in play while the ball that went out of play is sanitized and put back in place on the sideline.

Instead of two 40-minute halves, there will be four 20-minute quarters with no timeouts allowed. Players on the bench must be six feet apart for social distancing.

The talk around the CAL is that games will be played on Tuesdays and Saturdays and the Pioneers will play teams only once whether they are in the Kinney or Baker division. Details of schedules were yet to be confirmed by the league as of press time. 

While in a normal season, the team would have started practice in late August and games in early September, Munroe has been pleased with the way his three senior captains Luke Martinho, Jack Bird, and Dante Gesamondo have stepped up during the offseason.

“Since May, the players have been working out in small groups several days a week,” said Munroe, of the players-only workouts. “I really appreciate the captains’ efforts.”

Munroe went on to say that he plans on playing the seniors more once the season begins.

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