Nine amateur teams will start their journeys with the hopes of reaching the pinnacle in Massachusetts amateur soccer this season, the Bay State Soccer League announced Sunday evening.
Of the nine, three will join Division 3 North: Boston Siege AFC of South Boston, FC Hawks of Lowell, and the Worcester Boys Boys. The remaining six — the historic Fall River Marksmen of Fall River, Irish Village SC of Brighton, Boston Juventus of Taunton, Minutemen on Taunton, St Michael FC of New Bedford, and Suffolk University FC of East Boston — will join Division 3 South.
“We’re thrilled to have so much interest from new teams not only throughout Greater Boston, but also west to Worcester and south to Fall River and New Bedford,” said BSSL president Matt Sciandra. “Adding nine teams brings us to 48 teams overall, which puts us closer to the point where we can add a fifth 10-team division hopefully (in 2021).”
The Bay State Soccer League started in the 1970s and has membership across three levels of soccer. The BSSL uses a promotion and relegation system to reward teams who rise to the top of their respective divisions, with teams who do not perform so well dropped from the higher leagues to make room for succeeding clubs.
The 2019 champion, Providence City FC, for example, entered the BSSL in 2016, where they missed promotion by one point. The next three years saw the Rogues win Division 3 South to earn promotion to Division 2; in 2018, PCFC won Division 2 and promotion to Division 1.
Several of the new additions will enter leagues with ready-made rivalries, which should amp up the competition level: Worcester’s new team will mark three BSSL sides within the city proper, as well as four teams within Central Mass., including 2019 arrival Leominster FC. The Marksmen will have Spindle City Derbies with Fall River FC.
In addition, Siege AFC will be the second outfit in the league organized by Boston Siege, which sees its initial entry currently in Division 2.
All new teams, while they are separated into sections of Division 3, will also take part in the McKenzie Cup, a separate competition from the league. While league play begins the weekend of April 4, the Cup will begin the previous weekend, starting March 28.
The BSSL also announced that two existing clubs have changed names: the Boston Cranes are now the Boston Panthers (D3S), while Coastal United are now Celtic USA (D3S).