Girls kick off season at jamboree
MEDWAY — If last fall, with its restrictive modifications and lack of a postseason, was a bit of a mirage in the soccer desert for coaches, players and fans, then Saturday at Medway High was an oasis.
High school girls soccer definitely felt all the way back as 32 of the best teams in Eastern Mass. gathered on a picturesque day for a jamboree that provided a final tuneup for a regular season set to begin this week.
Medway girls soccer coach Jason Rojee hosts the event, which originated in Woburn more than a decade ago as a way to bring teams from the North and South together. The event has been at its current location for seven years.
The all-day action began at 8 a.m. and went until 4 p.m on four different fields, all in close proximity. Each of the 32 squads play two games consisting of a pair of 25-minute halves, with an hour break in between contests as the next wave of teams take the pitch.
“I think coaches want competition,” said Rojee. “When Hingham knows that Winchester is going to be here and Brookline knows that Feehan is going to be here, they all say I can go and have a great day of watching soccer and get two quality games in.”
A wide cross-section of programs were in attendance. The Tri-Valley League had nine of the 32 teams, including the hosts, but a total of 10 different leagues were represented across four of the five new divisions.
While this year is the largest the jamboree has been, Rojee said there is still room for expansion and hopes to draw Central and West teams in the future with the tournament now statewide.
The diversity and class of the field is a valuable tool for a coach like Sarah Dacey, who in her first year as Hingham coach last fall was unable to venture out of the Patriot League.
“I think it’s great. Obviously, we want to see what other teams in the state are all about,” said Dacey. “It’s important to do these things and see what is out there. I know our league is strong but there are a lot of strong teams in Massachusetts. It’s good to get out of the South Shore a little bit and experience different teams.”
Phil Silva, coach of reigning Division 1 state champion Bishop Feehan and veteran of the jamboree, said one of the things he uses the day for is to help finalize his roster.
“I like to bring about 23 players and iron it down to around 16,” said Silva. “Jay (Rojee) always matches you up with good teams.”
Andover was making its first trip on Saturday. Coach Meghan Matson said not only was she able to get a chance to evaluate some opponents on her schedule — the day is a scouting goldmine — but also an opportunity to gauge what her team is made of.
“We were psyched to come down. It’s awesome prep.” said Matson. “It’s great when you are successful playing an easy team during preseason, but when you are challenged and you know this is the type of team that we are going face in the season, it’s good to see how they step up.”