Boys soccer preview: Turners Falls looks to impress in first season back on pitch

Staff Writer
Published: 9/4/2023 2:10:18 PM

It’s not often that a school can bring back a sports program and have a team full of players with varsity experience, but that’s the situation Turners Falls boys soccer coach Matt Kolodziej is walking into this fall. 

The Thunder spent the last eight seasons co-oping with Franklin Tech, but after having the numbers to support their own program, brought the team back this fall. Twenty-one players are currently on the roster, many coming back from the co-op with Tech. Kolodziej, who previously served as the middle school coach in Turners, has plenty of experience with those players, which has led to a smooth transition. 

“Everything is going great,” Kolodziej said. “These kids have been playing together for a while. Getting to coach them when they were in middle school is a plus. This team has come together pretty well.

“We’re very thankful for [Franklin Tech athletic director] Joe Gamache and [Eagles coach] Kurt Richardson for the last eight years, taking our kids in and allowing them to play,” Kolodziej added. “They’ve been generous. Now we have the numbers to support the team and it’s great to bring it back. A lot of people behind the scenes have been pushing for this. I’m humbled and feel I need to do a good job with this opportunity.” 

Turners will be playing an independent schedule this fall, with nine games currently on the docket.

The Thunder will face off against SICS, Brattleboro, Monson, Southwick and Holyoke while also playing a few local teams in Greenfield and Pioneer. Kolodziej feels Turners should be competitive throughout the season. 

“I’m optimistic,” Kolodziej said. “It might sound crazy but I think we can win 60-70 percent of these games. We had a jamboree where we played a lot of the local teams and played well. It was good to see where we can stack up. If we position ourselves in the right way we can do well and have a good season.” 

One benefit of bringing the soccer team back will be playing games in the stadium at Turners Falls High School. The Thunder haven’t gotten much use of their stadium without a football or soccer team, but that won’t be the case anymore. Turners’ four scheduled home games will all take place under the lights, something Kolodziej said he’s looking forward to. 

“It’s going to bring a new life to fall sports here,” Kolodziej said. “We have wonderful field hockey, volleyball and golf teams but everyone is excited that people can come in and see games in the stadium now.”

The Thunder have plenty of chemistry on the field from their time together playing at Franklin Tech, as well as growing up and playing in youth and middle school leagues together. 

Kolodziej credits the parents for keeping the players involved in the sport despite Turners not hosting a program the past eight years. 

“I look at myself as the conductor,” Kolodziej said. “All the kids work well together. It’s easy to walk into a situation where we don’t have to go over basic soccer skills. They can just do things themselves. A lot of credit should go to the parents for that. I just have to put them in the right position to play and we’ll go from there.” 

David Klempner was a prolific goal scorer for the Eagles, and will once again be looked at as a scoring threat for Turners Falls this fall. Klempner is coming off a knee injury that he suffered at the end of the 2022 season at Tech. 

John Ramirez-Martin, Yolvin Ovalle-Mejia and Noah Kolodziej — all having previously played at Franklin Tech — are a few of the other players Kolodziej pointed out as being impact players this season.

“We have a young team,” Kolodziej said. “We have a few seniors but the vast majority are sophomores. They’re really good kids. They’ve been playing together for a long time and for most of them, it’s their first sport.” 

The Thunder open their season on Wednesday, hosting SICS at 6 p.m. 


COACH: Justin Brown



ROSTER: Braydon York, Angel Castillo, Colin Mason, Antonio Carbone, Aiden Kirwin, Caleb Leblanc, Jack Waslaske, Landon Collins, Landon Mallette, Brent Boudreau, Trace Flynn, Karim Thompson, Chouaga Tchiedjie Blaise Rodas, Seidou Mohamadou, Drake Wing

OUTLOOK: After a few years of low numbers, Brown — in his first year coaching at Athol — will have a full arsenal of players at his disposal this fall. Kirwan and Castillo are two returning seniors who are the Bears’ vocal leaders while Rodas and Mohamadou are new faces who will play key roles this season.

FC Tech

COACH: Kurt Richardson


LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 10-8-1, lost in Div. 5 prelims

ROSTER: Caleb Johnston, Riley Pereira, Aiden Lucas-Mullen, Mason Thurston, Owen Heilman, Jack Gancarz, Camden Bonnet, Preston Duvall, Sorin Marin, Ricki Perez, Colby Leete, Lucas Gadway, Jaxon Cottwright, Dyllan Duvall, Robert Belval, Johnathon Gheorghira

OUTLOOK: One program’s gain is another program’s loss. With Turners leaving to form its own team, the Eagles — who have made the state tournament the last two years — won’t have the full arsenal of players they’ve had the last few years. Seniors Robert Belval and Preston Duvall along with junior Riley Pereira will serve as the Tech captains and look to lead the team this season, Duvall in the midfield, Belval on defense and Pereira in goal.


COACH: Evan Horton


LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 13-5-3, lost in Div. 4 semifinals

ROSTER: Nico Fasulo, Wyatt Finch, Andrew Garappolo, Rosco Palmer, Christopher Penza, Max Rajballie, Chanhee Son, Jack Storm, Aidan Valderrama, Kaisac Yath, Owen Babb, Sam Bakare, Benjamin Cachiguango, TJ Donovan, William Reading, Chanmin Son, Tavo Vincent-Warner, Diego Frazier, Eric Larsson, Max Millette, Ian Paciorek, Adrien Pazmandy, Augustus Radner, Grayson Bishop, Jack Cusson

OUTLOOK: The Redhawks have been knocking on the door of a state title the last few years, making it to the the Div. 4 final in 2021 and the semis last year. Horton will be replacing eight seniors, including Brady Burch and Devin Niles who combined for 32 goals and 20 assists a season ago.

Rosco Palmer — who started at Mohawk Trail, transferred to Smith Vocational and is now at Frontier for his senior year — is a player Horton is high on, as he’ll bring speed and scoring ability up front along with Fasulo and Valderrama. Chanhee Son will operate as an attacking midfielder, with Paciorek, Larsson and Greenfield transfer Bakare working in the midfield as well. Garappolo, Cachiguango, Storm and Frazier will factor in on defense with the 6-foot-6 Babb there to clean things up in goal.


COACH: Erich Leaper



ROSTER: Liam Graham-Lawson, Daniel Pena-Chadee, Nick Prasol, Heskey Samu, Weston Den Ouden, Max Kovrizhhnyh, Malcolm Briggs, Henry Ball, Daivd Jung-Hernandez, Sam Eckstrom, Jacob Blanchard, Caleb Thomas, Chay Mojallali, Lucian Volosenco, William Pierre, Grayson Thomas, Joseph Heindrick Jean, David Louvens Jean Noel, James Iavorschi, Jack Laurie, Clivens Carter Michel, Cody Yetter

OUTLOOK: Samu, a defender, and Pena-Chadee, a goalie/defender, are returning all-league players who will lead the Green Wave defense. Caleb Thomas led Greenfield in scoring a season ago while Blanchard will be a relied upon senior up top. Laurie is someone Leaper says has made a big leap, Den Ouden will factor in on defense while Graham-Lawson will be a big presence in goal.

Greenfield is co-oping with Mohawk Trail this season.


COACH: Dan Guertin


LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 5-9-2, lost in Div. 4 Round of 32

ROSTER: Jaxson Archambault, Will Barnes, Alex Dowler, Lucas Isrow, Caleb Rodriguez, Carmichael Thompson, Dom Whitman, Sam Connors, Tristan Gaj, David Phelps, Mathieu Soucy, Brayden Gates, John Vallejos, Matt Vitello, Jackson Burham, Dylan Roy, Luke Connors

OUTLOOK: Guertin returns nearly his entire team from a season ago, with plenty of talent up-and-down the roster to work with. Whitman, Isrow and Phelps will lead the charge up front, bringing a lot of speed to the attack. Soucy will be the field general at the center mid spot and has made huge strides this offseason, while Connors will join him in the middle. Dowler will anchor the defense along with Archambault, Rodriguez and Barnes, with Gaj in goal.


COACH: Michael Italia



ROSTER: Gavin Gammell, William Glazier, Alex McClelland, Kurt Redeker, Alexander Sabin, Braeden Tsipenyuk, Mason Cummings, Kaden Vinton, Matan Lerman-Smith, Judah Glenn, Ty Ellis, Jackson Glazier, Hayden Girard, Hayden Killeen, Thaddeus Loud, Jacoby Stumpo, Brody Welcome

OUTLOOK: The Panthers nearly finished with a .500 record a season ago despite having seven eighth graders on their roster. Now all a year older, Pioneer is focused on earning a spot in the state tournament. Redeker, Gammell, William Glazier, McClelland, Tsipenyuk, Cummings, Glenn, Lerman-Smith and Jackson Glazier will play key roles for the Panthers.

Turners Falls

COACH: Matt Kolodziej

LEAGUE/DIVISION: Independent/5


ROSTER: Yolvin Ovalle-Mejia, John Ramirez-Martin, David Klempner, Jackson Cogswell, Ricky Pareja, Reyli Galvez-Martin, Aras Wiles, Avery Miner, Kainen Stevens, Noah Kolodziej, Cameron Johnson, Rojelio Galvez Mendez, Kevin Perez Cueto, Michael Berdugo, Christopher Hall, Brody Girard, Curtis Kretchmar, Johnny Bartolon, Robert Goff, Kessik Beck, Moises Borrayes


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