Despite playing in the soccer stronghold that is the Dual Valley Conference, one has to go back to 2001 to find the last time Douglas didn’t qualify for the Central Mass. Tournament.
So the Tigers have been consistently good and occasionally great, as was the case when they reached the Division 3 state final in 2009 and ’15. That latest title happened to be the last time they defeated perennial pitch power Sutton twice in a season.
Until this month that is.
The Tigers opened this shortened campaign with a 1-0 victory over the Sammies on Oct. 12 and came back two days later to post a 3-1 win at Sutton. They had gone 1-5-3 in the previous nine meetings against their DVC rivals.
“To get two games on them is huge,” said junior midfielder Aidan Ferguson, who set up classmate Michael O’Toole for the decisive goal in the opener and then scored in the rematch with the Sammies.
Alex Ferguson, Aidan’s dad and the Tigers’ coach, was pleased with the results, of course. And especially because of the way his players avoided a letdown in the second meeting.
The Tigers were warned to be ready for anything from Sutton coach Mike Elster, and they responded in kind.
“I told them to expect to see different looks in the second game,” said Ferguson, a 1992 Douglas graduate. “I know Mike, he’s a good coach, and he did give us a lot of different looks. And that’s what good coaches do.
“If something isn’t working the first time, you’re going to change things up and adjust until they do work. That’s the tough part because you only have a day to prep. … So it’s really tough.”
Douglas and Sutton are playing in a geographic pod with Auburn, Bartlett, Oxford and Uxbridge. Schedules are set up so teams play home-and-home series on Monday and Wednesday each week.
The Tigers swept Oxford by identical 8-0 scores this week to improve to 4-0 and are scheduled to face Bartlett next week.
They’re captained by defenders Andrew DeFalco and Garrett LaFortune, who are joined in the starting lineup by fellow seniors Connor Loehr, Ethan Moulder, Shane Murphy and, in goal, Steven Jackowski.
Classmates Brody Bennett, Ryan Mooney and Greg Peck provide experience, leadership and versatility off the bench for a team that had the depth and talent to make an extended postseason run before all regional and state tournaments were canceled in August.
“I thought we could have been in the top four-, five-team tier for sure in Division 4,” Ferguson said. “But it is what it is. At least we’re playing right now, and we have a focus, and we have a goal for these kids until the end of November.”
A month that will see the Tigers close out their 12-game slate the same way they started it, with a pair of games against Sutton.
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