Cotting’s Defensive Ability Big Plus for Holliston Booters

KEN HAMWEY, Staff Sports Writer
Tyler Cotting shouldn’t have any problems maintaining lofty standards, because he’s a rare breed soccer player.
Issue Date: 
November, 2019
Article Body: 

Tyler Cotting is a dynamic asset for the Holliston High boys’ soccer team.
A center back for the last three seasons, the 6-foot, 185-pound senior not only is technically skilled, but he also possesses a plethora of strengths that made him a Tri Valley League all-star last year. He’s also a two-time captain for the Panthers.
“Tyler has great instincts, and he’s fearless,’’ said his coach, Jay Dupuis, one of the area’s veteran soccer mentors. “Tyler is big, strong and fast. He’s always in the right position, and he’s a great teammate. I rate his as the best defender in the TVL.’’
Cotting’s tenacious defensive ability has been a major plus this fall, just like it was last year when Holliston won the TVL Large Division title, then rolled to the Division 3 South Sectional championship. At Local Town Pages deadline, the Panthers had a 7-2-2 record and were in first place in the TVL Large Division.
“We’re a younger team than last year’s squad that got to the State semifinals, but if we continue to play well and play together, we could be in the mix for the State crown,’’ Cotting said. “It’s realistic, because we’ve got good talent, and we can play with any team.’’
A native of Holliston, Cotting has other admirable goals. “I’d like to win our remaining matches and capture the Large Division title again,’’ he emphasized. “My personal goals are to keep striving to be the best captain I can be, become a league all-star for the second time and prepare the younger players to carry the torch, so that Holliston’s rich soccer tradition can be maintained.’’
The Panthers defense was superb in last year’s Sectional playoffs. Holliston won the title by blanking Norton, 1-0. Unfortunately, they bowed in the State semifinals by a 2-1 margin to Wayland.
“It was disappointing to lose a close match in the States,’’ Cotting said. “I wish we could have won the State title for the seniors. But, the Sectional championship meant a lot. The entire team played well, and our back line was solid. We were in position and in sync to defend effectively and shut out Norton. We rose to the occasion.’’
What makes Cotting such a top-notch competitor is the passion he has for playing center back. His field vision is superb, his positioning is excellent, and he likes the action that goes with being the last line of defense before the goalie. “I like blocking and tackling, and making stops is enjoyable,’’ he said. “Preparation is the key, because if our opponents penetrate our line, then there’s a 50-50 chance a goal will be scored.’’
Cotting’s preparation even extends to offense. At Local Town Pages deadline, he had three goals and three assists and was third on the team in scoring. On defense, he’s sparked Holliston to five shutouts in its first 11 games.
Relying on a physical style and refusing to give an inch, Cotting isn’t timid about defending in a tenacious manner. And, he’s bullish on Holliston’s three underclassmen who round out the back line — juniors Idrissa Smith (center back) and Ryan Katz (right back) and sophomore Brendan MacLeod (left back).
“Idrissa likes contact, he’s technically sound and is a solid one-on-one defender,’’ Cotting noted. “Ryan is an intelligent player who gets position and doesn’t fear contact. Brendan wins lots of headers, can pass and is also a terrific one-on-one defender.’’
Cotting, who is a six-year veteran of club soccer, is delighted to be one of the Panthers’ four captains and admires his senior colleagues on the leadership team — midfielder Evans Djohan and strikers Carter Mikkelsen and Thomas Sojka.
“They’re phenomenal captains and outstanding at their positions,’’ said Cotting, who hopes to lead by example and by communicating with and supporting younger players.
Cotter also lauds the soccer savvy of Coach Dupuis, “Coach Dupuis is a terrific motivator,’’ Cotting said. “He adjusts well to all situations, is very strategic, and he’s able to analyze all aspects of the game.’’
An honor-roll student, Cotting, who also plays varsity basketball, would like to continue playing soccer in college. Planning to major in criminal justice, he’s considering four schools — Marist, Roger Williams, Saint Anselm’s and Westfield State. For the present, however, the 18-year-old Cotting is focused on the tourney and helping his teammates prepare for the nuances that accompany post-season play.
Cotting, who stresses the importance of practice, also has learned some valuable life lessons from sports, and it’s no accident that he’s a two-year captain. “I’ve learned how to be a leader,’’ he said. “Athletics also teach players how to overcome adversity and be resilient, how to be mentally tough and to be responsible.’’