Grazulis steps up when counted on for Millbury High boys soccer

Grazulis steps up when counted on for Millbury High boys soccer

Expect the unexpected” it is commonly said of the twists and turns of life, and perhaps few in area high school sports received a hearty dose of the unanticipated more than Millbury High senior goalkeeper Anthony Grazulis.

Grazulis began last season entrenched in the backup role between the pipes for the varsity soccer team, only to find himself in the spotlight as the starting keeper when starter Colby Watkins went down for the season with a leg injury. The job was his, and although he’s a fast learner, some early-season jitters were admittedly there each time he took the field.

“Last year, Colby injured his leg during practice and wasn’t able to play during the season and I stepped in and played keeper,” Grazulis explained. “It was kind of stressful because I’ve been put in different positions before, but when Colby got injured, my coach decided that I was probably the best bet for the keeper role. It wasn’t a big deal for me, and I kind of just went with it and hoped for the best. As the season got going, I became more comfortable with it.

“I have to make sure I contain myself and not push too hard and get cocky and think that I can do whatever I want. If I do that, I’m not doing my job which is bailing our team out of situations. It can be stressful at times especially being as young as we are now.

“A large part of playing this sport is mental. Obviously, there’s physical aspects, but if you’re not in a good state while you’re playing, you’re not going to play great. It doesn’t matter how strong you are, if you’re not in position to do what you need to do, it doesn’t matter.”

“Anthony is one of those guys who is willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done with no questions asked,” said MHS boys varsity soccer head coach Brian Ginisi of his senior keeper. “When our starting senior, Colby Watkins, went down with an ACL injury just before the beginning of last season, Anthony stepped up big time and played great in net helping us go 6-1 on our way to a Pod Championship. He had limited experience as a goalkeeper, but he is gritty and brave and quickly won the confidence of the mostly senior starting group in front of him.

“I’m really excited to see what he has from a leadership role as he has inherited the reins of a very young squad this year, but so far, along with fellow captain Brady Desmarais, he has done a fantastic job of getting the guys organized and ready to go for the upcoming season.”

Grazulis became introduced to the game of soccer at the tender age of 3 and it was a virtual love at first blush. The game would be his passion and as he rose through town leagues, his skills increased exponentially setting the stage for an eventual berth on Ginisi’s varsity roster.

“For our town we have leagues that start really young,” he said. “As soon as I was old enough, my mom signed me up. I’ve been doing town soccer all my life and I feel that I’m instinctively good at that role. I really enjoy the physical activity because it puts me in the right mindset. I’ve always enjoyed soccer so that when I got to high school, I figured I’d try out for the school team, and I played JV for the first few years until I made my way up to varsity.”

Grazulis understands the opportunities he has been given to compete as a Woolie at the varsity level. He is more than up for the challenges his team faces as the fall season gets under way.

“Millbury is a very tight-knit community,” he acknowledged. “We’re very strong so being that it’s my senior season and we’re very young, we need to refresh the team. It’ll be different than what I’ve been used to, but I think it’ll be a good experience to be able to help with the new team that we’re going to have.”

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