Bouncing on his toes from left to right, Lucas Rezende-Verge
waited on his goal line for soccer’s most unpredictable moment: a penalty kick.
The Weymouth junior goalkeeper was isolated one-on-one with Barnstable’s Newton Jordao
, the Wildcats leading 1-0 in an MIAA Division 1 South Sectional first-round game. A goal would even the match and shift momentum; a stop would preserve the lead and crush the Red Raiders’ hopes.
The 6-foot, 2-inch keeper had no idea where the ball was headed, but he was quick enough and long enough to dive low to his left to stop Jordao’s shot.
“We had so much confidence in him, it was hard for us to imagine they were going to get one by him,’’ said Weymouth coach Bill McEachern
. “When the ref called for the penalty shot, no one on the team was nervous because they knew Lucas was going to make the save.’’
It was the fourth time this season the Wildcats’ keeper had stopped a penalty kick, and it allowed Weymouth to secure a 2-1 win and eventually reach the South sectional final.
Not bad for a player who did not expect to be starting in August.
Entering the season, McEachern figured he was set in goal with senior Scott Greenwood
, the 2011 Bay State Conference co-MVP and a returning Globe All-Scholastic. Greenwood recorded 11 shutouts last season and posted a 0.50 goals-against average, propelling Weymouth to a 13-win season.
As one of the top keepers in the state, Greenwood was given the opportunity to join the FC Greater Boston Bolts, an elite academy club that plays and practices for 10 months, featuring top coaches and recruiters.
But a new rule instituted by US Soccer banned academy players from their high school teams and put Greenwood’s career at Weymouth in question. Despite applying for a waiver and appealing the rule, Greenwood was informed in August that his high school career was over.
“It went until the last minute,’’ McEachern said of the waiver process. “It was just before the season started that Lucas learned Scott wasn’t coming back.’’
Suddenly Rezende-Verge, who appeared only briefly in goal as a sophomore, was thrust into the starter’s role two weeks before the season.
“I was always expecting just one year of Weymouth High varsity,’’ Rezende-Verge said. “Knowing that I was actually going to get the chance to play was awesome for me, and I was really excited about it.’’
The junior was thrown into the fire immediately, faced with a penalty kick in Weymouth’s opening game against Framingham, and again vs. Wellesley three contests later. Rezende-Verge stopped both shots.
“I just go with my gut feeling,’’ he said. “It leads back to my idol in soccer, Nelson Dida
, who was the Brazilian goalie. He was always amazing at penalty kicks. I always think of him right before I’m about to go against somebody.’’
Born in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Rezende-Verge’s soccer instincts came naturally. He said he was “born into the game’’ due to the country’s soccer obsession. It didn’t take long to realize keeper was his natural position.
“I’m an uncoordinated runner,’’ Rezende-Verge said. “When I run my body flails, but when I’m in the goal I seem to have the right stuff to do what I need to do.’’
In 2002, Rezende-Verge and his family moved to Scituate, and a few years later settled in Weymouth. Playing on youth travel teams, the goalkeeper caught the eye of FC Blazers coach Ken Bovell
, who invited Rezende-Verge to join the club team in eighth grade.
Now a captain for the Blazers, Rezende-Verge led his team to three tournament championships during the summer, giving him confidence heading into the fall.
“He’s one of the top keepers in his age group when you’re looking at soccer in the state, and even in the region,’’ McEachern said. “We were never concerned turning to Lucas this year. The players had full confidence in him.’’
Rezende-Verge reinforced his teammates’ belief this season, making 92 saves in 23 games and recording 11 shutouts and a 0.57 goals-against average. A Bay State first-team all-star along with captains Mikey Lynch
(21 goals, 12 assists), Jack Lynch
(7 goals, 5 assists), and Josh Berg
(6 goals, 9 assists), Rezende-Verge helped the Wildcats to a 17-2-4 record, within three victories of a state title.
“I have to put it all on team chemistry and the team captains bringing us all together,’’ Rezende-Verge said of the team’s success. “It was just like we were all one unit. I felt like we could really beat anybody, we just didn’t get the lucky bounce against Needham in the South final.’’
McEachern believes his keeper is a “legitimate Division 1 prospect,’’ and Rezende-Verge said he has his sights set on Boston University — and a possible pro career in Brazil — in the future.
Before that, however, there is his senior season at Weymouth, where Rezende-Verge will be counted on more with a big class graduating this year.
“There’s going to be more pressure on me to be more of the goalie I can be and not make as many mistakes,’’ he said. “I need to be more of a leader too, because next year I’m going to be the older guy.’’
Unlike this preseason, Rezende-Verge knows what lays ahead for him.
Three among younger crowd spark Cardinal Spellman girls
Underclassmen are not typically the go-to players on a high school team, but don’t tell that to Cardinal Spellman.
Sophomores Julia Schneider
and Hannah Boucher
, along with freshman Adrianna Forcucci
, played a major role in the Cardinals’ undefeated regular season.
Schneider recorded 12 shutouts and surrendered only eight goals all season en route to being named a first team EMass all-star. Boucher tallied 11 goals and six assists from the forward position, while Forcucci added 10 goals and six assists.
“They all played a huge role for us,’’ said Spellman coach Mike Perry
. “Julia did an outstanding job in goal, Hannah has a great attitude with an outstanding work ethic, and Adrianna got a number of goals on determination.’’