O’Neill, Powderly Key Leaders for FHS Soccer Team
By KEN HAMWEY,
Staff Sports Writer
Terry O’Neill and Tyler Powderly are outstanding soccer players at Franklin High but, as two-time captains, it’s their leadership skills that make them special.
Both midfielders, they’ve been on the Panthers’ varsity for four years and both were major contributors as freshmen. And, the tandem has valuable tourney experience — as freshmen they were eliminated in the first round by Boston College High, and as sophomores they were ousted by Brockton in the quarterfinals.
Not only are linked through soccer, but also by academics, both straight-A students want to win the Hockomock League’s Kelly-Rex Division title and advance deep into the State tourney, but emphasize growth as a team as success.
“A successful tourney run would be great, but if we don’t win a State title, that’s not failure,’’ O’Neill said. “I judge success on how much our team improves, how well we practice and bond, and the connections and relationships that occur and will last a lifetime.’’
Powderly echoes O’Neill’s viewpoint. “I’d love a deep playoff run,’’ he said, “but success is more than that. It’s all about team chemistry, improvement, bonding and the development of close-knit relationships. And, because this year’s team is young, we want to prepare the players for the future. Supporting and helping younger teammates is important.’’
Fran Bositis, who’s in his 51st year as Franklin’s coach, has high praise for the duo.
“Terry was our best player last year, and he was a league all-star,’’ Bositis noted. “He’s an exceptional captain who leads by example and by being supportive. Tyler was vocal as a freshman, always encouraging his teammates. He’s a mature kid who’s supportive and sensitive to those in need of help.’’
Bositis not only emphasizes the pair’s value as leaders, but he also admires their skills in midfield.
“Both have high soccer IQs, are hard workers, and they’re strong in transition,’’ Bositis said. “Terry has good technical ability, he’s strong in the air, and he’s instinctive. Tyler is unselfish, intelligent and a terrific passer. He’s like a point guard in basketball.’’
Following is a detailed look at what makes these exceptional captains special.
The 6-foot, 160-pound O’Neill previously played center back but he thoroughly enjoys competing now as the Panthers’ center midfielder.
“I love playing the center slot because there’s lots of open space, and a midfielder has the option to either go on the attack or pass,’’ he said. “To be successful, the key is to rely on endurance, technical skills, know how to handle transition and maintain a high soccer IQ.
Now in his second year as a captain, O’Neill likes Franklin’s prospects for the season in spite of the Panthers slow start (FHS was 0-2 at Local Town Pages deadline). “We’ve got talent, experience, depth and good team chemistry,’’ he noted. We could be a surprise this season.’’
One aspect of O’Neill’s style that won’t be surprising is how he handles his role as a captain. He’s got a relentless work ethic, he’s encouraging and supportive. “To be a captain for the second time is an honor and it shows that my teammates rely on me. But, I rely on them, too.’’
Two underclassmen O’Neill believes will be quality contributors are soph center back Rex Cinelli and junior wing Will Kryzak. Also a fan of Bositis, O’Neill calls him “a great motivator who’s dedicated to his players and offers sound life advice.’’
A native of Cumberland, R.I., O’Neill’s best game came as a sophomore when Franklin defeated Natick in its playoff opener, 1-0. “I didn’t score, but I won all the headers, displayed good technical skills and moved the ball with consistent dribbles,’’ he said. “The win moved us into the quarterfinals against Brockton.’’
The 18-year-old O’Neill banks on an athletic philosophy that stresses reaching one’s potential and enjoying sports. “If those things are in balance, then winning will occur,’’ he said. “I’m competitive and want to win. Some life lessons I’ve learned from sports are how to lead, how to be a good teammate and how to sacrifice.’’
O’Neill, who has seven years of club soccer experience, hopes to play in college, possible at Stonehill, Holy Cross, Northeastern or the University of Rochester. His major will be either political science, economics or business.
The son of King Philip coach Mike O’Neill, the two don’t talk about KP-Franklin games as they approach. “When a Franklin-KP game ends, there’s no hard feelings, and my dad and I recap the game,’’ Terry said. He’ll often give me tips and advice.’’
The 5-foot-7, 140-pound Powderly, who played wing before he started as a midfielder during his sophomore season, is comfortable in his current role.
“I like playing midfield because you contribute on offense and defense,’’ he said. “There’s lots of transition, and you see the entire field. To succeed there, the keys are to be skilled in many areas. That includes being instinctive and aware of the next play and rely on a high soccer IQ and strong technique.’’
The 18-year-old Franklin native, who’s a National Honor Society student, put his soccer IQ and instinctive ability on display in two memorable matches as a sophomore.
“We beat Oliver Ames in a regular season game,’’ he recalled. “I played about 95 percent of the game and was voted MVP of the game. “I’m small in stature but played big in that game. I connected with my teammates by passing well and winning the headers. It was my best game. Against Brockton in the tourney, I scored the only goal in a 2-1 loss. I was at the right place at the right time, and the atmosphere of playing in a big stadium was great.’’
Acutely aware that the current Panther squad is young, Powderly firmly believes that Franklin will finish strong and improve greatly on last year’s 3-5-4 covid-19 season. “We’ve got juniors and sophomores who’ll be major contributors,’’ he offered. “We’ve also got good team chemistry, balance and depth.’’
One veteran teammate Powderly admires his senior center back Aidan Griffith, a four-year veteran. Powderly also admires his coach, and he labels him “a strong motivator and a leader who’s positive and knows soccer inside and out.’’
Delighted to be a captain for the second straight year, Powderly is supportive, vocal and a leader by example. “I like to get feedback from my teammates, and I like to give them feedback, too,’’ he said.
Powderly is a versatile athlete who competes in indoor and outdoor track. Speed and strength make him potentially the Panthers No. 1 middle distance runner in the 400, 600 and 800-meter events.
Possessing a 4.0 GPA, Powderly, who’s Student Government treasurer, is mulling colleges like Duke, Northwestern and Georgetown. He’d like to play soccer, but if it’s not at the varsity level, he’ll consider competing in intramurals or for a club team. Undecided on his major, he’s leaning towards biology or engineering.
Relying on an athletic philosophy that stresses winning, reaching one’s potential and having fun, Powderly said, “I’ve learned not to take anything for granted. And, sports have helped me to be a good teammate and to be a strong leader.’’