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Inside look at AHS soccer MVP Valagussa

Max Fritsch, YourArlington's 2018-19 Arlington High School intern, wrote this news feature about his teammate:

francesco running 400 kimswift2018Francesco Valagussa on the run in 2018. / Kim Swift photo

This fall, Francesco Valagussa racked up 19 goals and 14 assists for the Arlington High School boys' soccer team amid its Massachusetts Division II North Sectional championship campaign.

His consistent, stalwart play earned him Middlesex League MVP, his second league all-star nomination, as well as Eastern Mass. All-stars and All-State nominations. To learn more about the Spy Ponder’s captain, YourArlington sat down with Valagussa to find out more about him.

Valagussa is an 18 year old who has lived for 15 years in Arlington with his parents, who are from Italy.

Impact of his brother

Asked about his beginnings with soccer, Valagussa quickly and emphatically pointed toward his brother, Tommaso Valagussa.

“I've played since I was born pretty much,” he said in an interview. “My brother is 2 years older than me, and I always played when he did.”

In fact, Tommaso is Francesco’s biggest inspiration in his passion for the game: “When I watched him play, I wanted to be that good, so I always trained with him. He’s always been my toughest opponent because we've always been so competitive.”

Today, Tommaso plays NCAA Division III soccer at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Francesco, also a sharp scholar, plans to match his brother and play NCAA soccer next year at a prestigious school. He will decide among offers from Union College, Tufts University or possibly RPI.

Rough patches, amazing runs

During his Arlington high school soccer career -- three years on varsity and one year on junior varsity -- Francesco has faced some rough patches and also some amazing runs.

“My lowest low was definitely last year in the middle of the season, he said.” I got really confident going off my first half, so then for the next couple of games, I went into a slump where I couldn’t score or assist against any team.”

After losing many standout players from the 2017 season, which saw Arlington exit the tournament in the semifinals, Valagussa claimed not to have many high expectations of the team going into the season.

However, after the Spy Ponders’ impressive play against such teams as BC High and Lexington, “I really saw potential in the team, and I knew we had a good shot of getting back to where we were the season before. They impressed me and far exceed expectations.”

Highest high

On the other hand, his highest high was, “when we won the D2 North Finals,” and he did not kick the winner. After 55 minutes of scoreless play, teammate Lucas Plotkin did, giving the Spy Ponders a thrilling 2-0 win over Masconomet.

This was the first time Arlington High School boys' soccer team had achieved this feat. “It was not only amazing to win the trophy, but it was even better getting to see how well the team played and how every single person played their role perfectly,” said Valagussa of the cold and exhilarating November night at the Manning Bowl, in Lynn.

A senior in the class of 2019, Valagussa played his final season as a Spy Ponder. “This season was so important to me, especially with it being my last one,” he said.

Francesco’s play under Coach Lance Yadzio at Arlington High School has been stellar and his achievements in his four years as a Spy Ponder have been historic, but Valagussa is sure that his soccer career is just getting started and this is not the last time his name will be heard.

Nov. 18, 2019: MIAA soccer: Nauset tops AHS boys, but game closer than it looks

Scroll down to see summaries of previous games 

This news feature, which includes opinion, was published Monday, Jan. 21. 2019.

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