The Perfect Season - By Mike Lynch


The Perfect Season

To get there you have to cross over the Sagamore Bridge and then keep driving east on Route 6 until it narrows down to two lanes. The school is down the street from the Nauset Light, which is on the National Register of Historic Places - you've probably seen the lighthouse on a bag of Cape Cod Potato Chips.

Hardly the place where you would find the ninth ranked boys high school soccer team in the nation. Nauset Regional High School has been open just over forty years and this past fall the boys soccer team had a season for the ages. They finished a perfect 23-0 and won the Division 2 state title but what got them on the map nationally was a pair of streaks.

First they went unbeaten, week after week. As if that wasn't enough pressure, they did not give up a goal throughout their regular season. Pressure? You bet. "As we won each game the pressure mounted and not giving up a goal didn't help so eventually our goal became NOT to give up a goal," senior captain Jake LaBranche told me. The Warriors moved through the state tournament, round after round still shutting out opponents and keeping the streak alive. "Making it to the state final game added to the pressure but I think we handled it well," added captain Hayden Yakola. Coming into the state final against Masconomet Nauset's record was 22-0 and they had outscored their opponents 106 - 0! How do you ignore the streak and focus on winning a state title?

Fans became spoiled - they wanted a perfect season of wins and losses combined with an undefeated record. Leading 1-0 in the final Masconomet scored the first and only goal on Nauset all season. Still there was one half to play and a state title at stake. Nauset would score the only goal in the second half to win the title. It was scored by James McCully, who had both goals in the state final running his season total to a very impressive 38, which just happened to be one goal shy of the school record of 39 set by his coach, John McCully, who also happens to be the father of James. Coach McCully scored his 39 goals in 1979, the last time Nauset won it all. So was is more exciting then or now coach? "It's much better now as a coach," the elder McCully told me. "It's a dream come true to have my son playing with his best friends. It is so special and since he is a junior we get to do it all over again next year."

When the match ended and the state champonship trophy was in their grasp there was a gust generated by 22 players exhaling. It was over, the pressure was off and they had done it.  "I can't describe how I felt," said Ben Mulholland, another Nauset captain. " Everything we worked for the past four years was for that one second after time expired - we were FINALLY satisfied with what we had done." And so was an entire region and those that vote for the top ten in the nation.

The team bus received a police escort from the game site in Lynn all the way across the Cape Cod Canal to the school between the elbow and the wrist of The Cape in Eastham. As the freshly printed tee shirts proclaimed - this was more than a perfect season - this was NAUSOME!