Rockport Vikings Boys Soccer '07

Rockport senior Derek Osmond is a standout player for the Vikings soccer team and will begin playing in the state tournament the week of Nov. 1.  » Mary Muckenhoupt, Staff Photographer

Osmond helps Rockport get back to the tournament

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Thursday, November, 01 By Rich Slate

The game of soccer has come full circle for Rockport senior star Derek Osmond.

It wasn't too long ago that he was that little kid watching the game from the sidelines and racing onto the field at half-time to shoot on the goals. In fact, some of the most cherished times from his childhood were spent watching his older brother Ryan play for Rockport.

Ironically, Ryan was a part of the last Vikings squad (2001) to make the Division 3 North Tournament. In a few days, Ryan (who's now a 21-year-old fisherman out of Pigeon Cove) and his extended family will be the ones watching Derek lead the Vikings into the postseason.

"Derek has always been around his older brother and playing with bigger kids," said Rockport coach Dave Curley. "The thing that you immediately noticed was that he could play with them. It's always been that way."

This season, Rockport had to get four points over its last two games just to make the tournament. After tying Cape Ann League giant Masconomet, 1-1, Rockport topped rival Manchester Essex, 1-0 last Thursday night in the season-finale. Osmond had the lone Rockport strike against the Hornets, a beautiful goal early in the second half.

"It was great to see all those people there supporting us, it was a night I'll never forget," said Osmond. "It was really good just to show the younger kids what it takes to get there. We've come close before but this year we actually stepped up and it was a great all-around effort."

Curley is a guidance counselor at Rockport middle/high school so he's known Osmond for seven years.

"From the first time I saw Derek play, he's always had a knack for scoring," Curley noted. "He's a great all-around athlete, one of the finest we've had come through here in years."

A Cape Ann League All-Star in soccer his sophomore and junior years, Osmond was recently named All-League (a higher honor) while also being nominated for the Eastern Mass. All-Stars. In the spring, Osmond also competes at a high level on the baseball diamond. He's an All-League pitcher and shortstop.

The ability to excel has always been there for Osmond. He actually made his debut with the Rockport varsity when he was in eighth grade. Fittingly, the game was against Manchester Essex and it marked Ryan Osmond's last game as a senior. Back then, Osmond was smaller than most of the other players, but his potential was enormous.

"We all knew he was ready to play varsity soccer," said Curley. "He didn't look out of place, and it was so nice to see them together."

Osmond scored seven goals his freshman year, nine his sophomore year, 13 as a junior and nine so far this season. "He's been the leading scorer all four years at Rockport, he's a finisher," says Curley.

Dubbed the "Wizard of Oz" by his coach, Osmond has constantly developed his all-around game in the past four seasons, as evidenced by double-digit assist totals in each campaign.

Until recently, Osmond competed for the Aztecs, a local club soccer team out of Beverly, but quit as it interfered too much with baseball. His fundamental skills though seem to trace back to endless days spent at his grandparent's house (next door) with a soccer ball.

"I remember running up and down my street dribbling the ball, shooting and stuff," Osmond recalled. "My grandparents have our soccer schedule on the fridge with all the results. They never miss a game and that means a lot to me."

Soccer seems to be a family affair. One of Osmond's uncles, Neil Dineen, is the current Rockport girls coach and used to be the boys coach. Osmond remembers picking Dineen's brain when he was just starting to get into the game himself.

"When I was in elementary school, I would always try to talk to him about it," Osmond said. "He really encouraged me. Neil and my dad used to always coach the youth teams."

Like all great players in any sport, Osmond often seems to be at another level than his helpless opponents.

"He's strong on the ball, one step ahead of everyone else," Curley said. "His vision is outstanding, he's always been quick and dribbling with his head up."

One of the other key factors that separates Osmond from his peers is his steady leadership, even under conditions that would cause most to occasionally snap. Despite being constantly double-teamed, fouled and targeted, Derek is rarely rattled. Curley could only think of one time in the four years that Osmond has received a yellow card.

"He's a tough player and the thing that goes unnoticed is that the other coaches all know who he is and have respect for him," Curley said. "He's able to maintain his composure, stay in the game and not be selfish."

Senior defenders Ross Brackett, Eric Juncker and Osmond are the three captains for Rockport this fall. Each brings his own unique qualities to the position.

"Ross is quiet, he leads by example," said Curley. "He's our rock on defense. Eric is a physical presence, he's vocal and much more demonstrative. Derek is loose and confident which rubs off on our whole team. They have so much faith in Derek as a player, they know he'll get them the ball if they're open and he'll finish it if they give it up."

That looseness is illustrated by the fact that the every player on the team decided to get a mohawk haircut before the state tournament. It's a showing of solidarity as they try to make some more school history.

"We were all for it," says Osmond. "Why not go ahead and do it? It was nice seeing the guys with the long hair join in." Today, the Vikings will find out the details of their first tournament match. It will be a new experience for the team but one that Osmond will undoubtedly recall in vivid detail from his brother's career many seasons ago.

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