Boys Soccer Prefiew: Somers seeking fourth straight title berth

Somers graduated 13 players from a team that finished 15-6 and advanced to a third consecutive Class S state tournament final. The Spartans narrowly missed out on a third straight state title losing to Bloomfield 3-2 in a last second goal. But despite the turnover, the program has demonstrated an ability to bounce back and maintain its status as one of the top teams in the state. Coach Rick Kelly feels 2013 should be no different.

“Our players have been set up for success going into this season,” head coach Rick Kelley said. “Because they learned the importance of hard work and dedication from watching last year’s team, they will be prepared to play bigger roles and serve as leaders.”

The Spartans will rely on an athletic and relatively experienced midfield to stay on top of the NCCC. Seniors Brian Rossini, Nick Murdza and Austin Ficara will be impact players in the middle. The team will also benefit heavily from the return of starting goalie Kyle Trusi, a junior.

Kelley said that speedy forwards, sophomore Cory Brown and senior Branden Scanlon could emerge as scoring threats as the season goes along.

The Spartans hope to make another tournament run, but right now are chiefly focused on maintaining a strong level of play from game to game.

“We certainly want to do well in the tournament and continue our legacy of success,” Kelley said. “It’s just a matter of finding a good game plan and sticking to it.”

Fermi

The Falcons are looking to maintain last season’s success when they went 12-5-1 and made a run to the Class L quarterfinals. They will certainly have their work cut out for them after graduating 10 starters, including shutdown goalie Alex Zachary and dynamic forward Conor Glettenberg. Fermi will attempt to make up for these losses with depth.

Head coach Jim Russell said that the Falcons possess excellent depth on both sides of the ball. Russell is very encouraged by the improvement of a number of players who competed in the offseason.

Fermi should be especially deep on defense, where it will receive contributions from players in all four classes. Seniors Jeremy Hart and Steven Bensen and sophomore goalie Matt Evans will serve as leaders of the defense.

“Our ultimate goal is to return to states and put ourselves in position to make a run,” Russell said. We want to have the same success as last season.”

Stafford

After struggling mightily in 2010 and 11’, the Bulldogs took a big step forward last season by going 8-9-1 and advancing to the second round of the Class S tournament. If Stafford returns to the tournament for the second straight year, it will have its experienced and deep defense to thank. Leading the way on defense will be senior Tom Greene, whom head coach Rob Schadt described as relentless. When offenses manage to get past Greene and his teammates, they will have to contend with senior goalie Jake Kalette, one of the top keepers in the NCCC.

“Jake is a tremendous athlete and has excellent hands,” Schadt said. “He’s the full package.”

The Bulldogs will also benefit from the versatility of seniors Andrew Bachiochi and Jesse Reeves. The pair are listed as midfielders, but will be used in a variety of roles. Bachiochi was All-NCCC last season. On offense, Stafford is looking to obtain contributions from nearly everyone after graduating Evan Theroux, who frequently carried the offense last season. Schadt said that his team must receive at least three or four goals from roughly five players to be competitive.

“We are very determined to finish above .500 and make the tournament,” he said. “It would be an outstanding step forward for our program to qualify two years in a row.”

Enfield

The Raiders will have to overcome a number of obstacles to qualify for the Class M tournament. Enfield finished 4-11-1 competing in the very tough NCCC last season. Head coach Giovanni Mancuso believes his players possess the skill and leadership abilities to earn a playoff berth despite these obstacles.

“It’s early for our current team, but I feel that the leadership abilities are there and that they’re of our biggest strengths,” he said. “We now have to find a winning attitude.”

Enfield will rely on senior tri-captains Korey Wells, Andrew Halgas and Michael Casey to provide leadership and strong play on both ends of the field. Wells, a defender/midfielder, should get his share of goals. Mancuso praised Halgas, a defender, for his intelligence, and said that Casey, a midfielder/forward, is probably the team’s fastest player.

Mancuso wants to see the Raiders play with confidence and intensity during the first few games.

“I want us to come out and have an attitude of “We can and we will win this game,” he said. “We have to remember that each team has 11 players and nothing else.”

Windsor Locks

Going into last season, the Raiders were uncertain of how much talent they possessed after graduating most of their starters. After seeing his young team improve mightily and qualify for the Class S tournament, head coach Dan Eckert has realized that Windsor Locks possesses a number of talented players.

Windsor Locks returns nine players from a team that went 6-10—1 and lost in the first round of states. It should be particularly strong on offense, where the team has significant depth and experience. The offense will rely on seniors Mike Smalley, Matt Halett and Tyler Ladder. Eckert praised Smalley’s vision and work ethic.

The Raiders also return the majority of their defense, led by seniors Ryan Wilson and Reed Lynch. Wilson and Lynch are very athletic and aggressive defenders, and that Eckert believes Wilson has the ability to be an All-NCCC player.

“I feel that we will be significantly better this season,” Eckert said. “We have the potential to be very good, but the players have got to want to reach that level. If our team is going to do something great, this is the season to do it.

Suffield

The Wildcats are two-time defending champions in Class M, having won it last season over Bacon Academy. Though Suffield returns a number of key contributors from its title squads, expectations are measured going into the season due to the Wildcats lack of depth.

On offense, Suffield will be led by senior forward Sean Sullivan, senior forward/midfielder Matt Guminiac and junior midfielder Colten Grob, who was a member of the Hartford Courant’s All-State team. Head coach Mark Beigel stated that Sullivan and Grob have excellent speed and athleticism, and that Grob possesses the best footwork of any player he has ever coached.

The defense also features its fair share of accomplished players, with seniors Colin McFarlane and Ben Woodhouse among them. Woodhouse has started in goal for both title teams, and Beigel said that his leadership and work ethic has been integral to the Wildcats success.

Suffield may possess a lot of top-level talent, but it cannot be a championship team unless it develops a reliable group of secondary players. To do so, each Wildcat needs to have a grasp of the fundamentals.

“Currently, we are working on establishing a basic skill set for every player in the program,” Beigel said. “If our guys have that basic skill set and understand where they’re capable of contributing, they should be successful.”

East Windsor

Head coach Mike Mosher is pleased with how his players have performed during the preseason and praised their work ethic and conditioning as the team looks to bounce back after a 2-13-1 season in 2012.

Seniors Bryan Peroyn and Adam Fisher should be two of the Panthers top players and will bring much-needed leadership to the team.

“We have a solid group of experienced players we can count on,” Mosher said. “Our team has a small roster, so to win games we’ll need to find a couple of younger guys we can trust as subs and backups.”

East Windsor believes its talent will surprise teams and could ultimately allow it to qualify for the Class S state tournament.

“This is the best chance our program has had at making the tournament in a while,” Mosher said. I’m confident we can get some upsets.”

Tolland

The Tolland Eagles boys soccer team is hoping to be strong contenders in the CCC East. To do they need to overcome the loss of three important veterans to graduation: Jack Moran, Keenan Devaney and Ethan Culver.

“The greatest challenge in replacing those guys will be filling the standard of leadership they brought,” head coach Jim Leahy said. “They brought together a group of 40+ boys that struggled early in the season and held them together through the quarterfinals.”

Tolland, which went 9-7 during the regular season before a surprising tournament run, can overcome these losses by relying on its depth. Leahy believes that a number of players can be strong contributors, particularly on offense.

“There’s more depth coming in this season then we’ve had in a long time,” he said. “A lot of guys are going to get the chance to play significant minutes and prove themselves.”

Top returnees for Tolland include athletic forward Alex Weekes and midfielders Tommy Allen and Tyson Bridge.

“I’m confident that we have the talent and chemistry to succeed in the league and maybe make a run at a state title if everything comes together,” Leahy said. “Our guys fought through a lot of adversity last season, and it’s only made them stronger.”

South Windsor

The Bobcats may have graduated a ton of talent from a squad that went 13-2-1 before being upset in the first round of the Class LL tournament, but a new crop of players is ready to step up and help South Windsor remain competitive in the CCC North.

“Our guys are playing well in practice, and their work ethic has been excellent,” head coach Dave St. Jean said. “It’s clear that the players who are getting their first shot at varsity minutes are very driven to improve. We’re certainly going to need them to step up at different times.”

The performances of the Bobcats seniors both on and off the field will go a long way towards determining whether the season is a success. St. Jean is looking for midfielder Curtis Bolduc and defensemen Noah Kennedy and Michael Tarascio to provide big plays and show strong leadership. While South Windsor would love to qualify for the tournament and put itself in position to win a game or two, that is not the ultimate goal.

“If our players develop well and we’re constantly competitive, the season will be a success whether we qualify or not,” St. Jean said.

Rockville

On paper, you would think the Rams would want to put last year’s 0-16 campaign completely behind them. However, that isn’t quite the case. Rockville believes that the lessons it learned last season about fighting through adversity will make it a more disciplined, driven and dangerous team in 2013.

“Those struggles have only made the players more disciplined and brought them closer together,” Nick Cody, who is taking over as head coach after leading the junior varsity team last season, said “The seniors have been through a lot, and are hungry to have a winning season. They’re so hungry it’s unreal.”

Cody said that the Rams have their most experienced team in many years. While all of their experienced players will be counted on to provide consistent production and leadership, he singled out midfielders Matt Tracey and Shawn Monaghan and defenseman Nico Petrella as being especially crucial to Rockville’s success.

Ellington

The 2013 Knights look very different from last year’s edition, which went 14-3-2 and advanced to the Class M quarterfinals. Out goes a highly talented and successful senior class; in comes a driven but very raw group of players who will be counted on to mature quickly.

“Our players must mature quickly, and that will only happen if we work together cohesively as a team and make the game easier for one another,” head coach Roy Gurnon said. “I’m looking for guys who can show discipline and take on a leadership role.”

Gurnon is hopeful that a number of players can step up after the loss of Dave Cohen, a leading scorer and others from last year’s squad. Seniors Sean Bassett and Nick Milleane can be difference makers in the midfield, Gurnon said. The Knights will be tested immediately this season, as they open against Suffield and host Avon a week later. Suffield won the M title last season, while Avon was runner-up in L.

“How we play against those teams will help demonstrate whether we can be competitive this season,” Gurnon said. “We still hope to make states, you never know what will happen once you get there.”

Glastonbury

he Tomahawks have a chip on their shoulder after 2012 ended in a highly disappointing fashion. Glastonbury went 13-2-1 during the regular season and won the CCC North, but then lost to Newington in the first round of the Class LL tournament as a number four seed. As painful as this loss was, one good thing has come out of it: It has inspired players to work extra hard during the preseason.

“Losing in the first round helped our guys realize that they owe it to one another to push themselves and give 100 percent,” Landers said.

Glastonbury returns a gifted trio of defenders in seniors Tyler Peterson, Patrick King and Chase Conway. Conway was one of the area’s top goalies last year. The Tomahawks defense allowed just 10 goals last season and at one point earned 10 consecutive shutouts.

Glastonbury’s offense could be formidable, but a number of players need to prove that they can be consistently effective as starters. Senior midfielder/forward Evan Hassett will be counted on to provide leadership on offense.

“Our offensive guys need to improve at handling the ball and finishing scoring chances,” head coach Mark Landers said. “I want to constantly see intensity and passion from our offense.”

Landers biggest hope for the season is that his players develop chemistry with one another. If this occurs, he believe that it will translate into wins.

I want to see our players come together as a soccer family and represent Glastonbury in the best possible light,” he said.

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