This time of year everyone is talking about the Randolph Cardinals football team trying to finish an undefeated season with a another state title. What not so many people know is that the boys soccer team and coach Dave Levandowski are having their own year to remember.
"These guys have been together so long, ten years for some of them," Levandowski said, "and I'm proud of they way they have committed themselves to a team effort."
When asked about the success of his team, Levandowski acknowledged the adversity that so often comes along with having such a successful football program.
Matthew Born leads Randolph’s offense with 19 goals and seven assists.
P-J photo by Jay Young
"The football team has been so good that it's not always easy to find kids that want to play youth soccer, but these guys have kept on playing what they love," Levandowski said.
Taking a look at the Cardinals' record for this year, you will find only three non-league draws tucked between victory after victory. Heading into playoffs the team is 13-0-3 after a perfect 12-0 East Division record, thanks to a deep bench as well as standout play from veteran leaders.
One of those veterans is junior keeper Nick Carpenter, who has played under Levandowski since his freshman year. Carpenter currently holds 11 shutouts on the season, which brings his career total to 26 perfect games. Since his time as an underclassman, Carpenter has grown both in stature and ability, becoming a nightmare for opposing offenses.
A big part of this success can be attributed to Nick's father, assistant coach Mike Carpenter. Levandowski reflected on Mike's own time spent between the pipes for the Cardinals. During his playing career as a goaltender, Mike was able to lead Randolph to their first its sectional soccer title.
"He works with Nick every day," said Levandowski, "and it obviously shows on the field."
While Carpenter has been a defensive stalwart for the Cardinals, striker Mathew Born has catalyzed the offense. Going into the playoffs Born has recorded an impressive 19 goals while also dolling out seven assists.
"That's what is so great about Matt, if teams want to double him or try and shut him down, he opens doors for the nine other guys on the field, and they can all score," said Levandowski.
One thing that has really helped this Cardinals' offense succeed, and one of the reasons they are so difficult to stop, is they play as one unit with everyone complimenting each another. After reading a scoresheet you might be tempted to think that the scoring revolves around one or two players, but watching the team tells another story.
"Teams obviously know who Matt is, so he draws a lot of attention, but that helps us get scoring from other players," Levandowski said.
In their final regular game, the Cardinals had a hard-fought matchup against the Maple Grove Red Dragons that ended in a scoreless tie. According to Levandowski, "That game was like a reset button for us, you can see the kids refocusing for what we'll face next."
That reset is going to be key for the Cardinals moving foreword, as they have yet to face their toughest test in the Section 6 Class C playoffs. More likely than not, second-seeded Randolph will face off against top-seeded International Prep, which has knocked them out of the playoffs the last two years.
"Everyone knows who they are,"conceded Levandowski, "they graduate a lot of kids every year just like we do, and they are always good."
Randolph opens the playoffs today at home at 3:30 p.m. with a rematch of a late-season game against 15th-seeded Portville.