The Somerville boys soccer team achieved its goal of becoming a perennial Division 1 state championship contender in coach George Scarpelli's first three years on the job.
However, Scarpelli expects his fourth season to be similar to his first -- a transition season in which a core of young players are introduced to the coach's high expectations.
The Highlanders graduated 14 seniors from last year's team, which fell to Brookline in the semifinal round of the EMass. Division 1 state tournament on the heels of a 12-6-4 season. The year before, the Highlanders won a Greater Boston League title.
This year, Scarpelli will rely on two senior captains, Edgardo Perez and Richie Rodriguez, along with two junior captains, Andre Rolim and Mateus Reis, to bridge the gap between last year's veteran squad and this year's youth movement.
"It's going to be difficult because we graduated so many seniors," Scarpelli said. "We're a relatively young team, but we're not short on talent."
Perhaps the most talented of Scarpelli's young players is Thyrone Miranda, who will look to replace the scoring output of two-time GBL MVP Homero Morais.
"We'll lean on the captains for leadership, and we'll lean on Thyrone as our good, young talent," Scarpelli said.
The Highlanders returned from their annual preseason camp in the Berkshires a day early -- on Saturday -- due to the impending hurricane.