Title runs are latest in Suffield Soccer tradition

Tradition.

It can be a nebulous concept, and in the lexicon of sports the word is thrown around so much it is borderline cliché.

But for the Suffield High boys and girls soccer programs,  tradition is not only alive and well, but growing. The Wildcats added another chapter to the school’s winning tradition on Saturday as the boys captured the Class M state championship while the girls  team dropped a heartbreaking 2-1 decision to St. Joseph-Trumbull in the Class LL state final.

For the boys it was their third consecutive Class M state title and ninth overall. The girls have won six state titles since 1998 and have made 10 appearances in a championship game.

If you are counting that makes for 15 state championships between the boys and girls programs.  There are only a handful of schools in state history with more combined titles and in Suffield the explanation for such success always seems to come back to that word: Tradition

“Tradition is something that is carried on. Tradition is something that is practiced and that is celebrated. It’s something that most importantly is built upon by each graduating class,’’ Suffield coach Mark Beigel said. “When you ask how we do it I think that word (tradition) has been spread around and each graduating class ultimately buys into it. Each graduating class leaves a legacy and that has been happening in this town for a long time.’’

The legacy left by the seniors from 2013 boys’ soccer team is remarkable. The past four years Suffield has compiled 72-4-2 record with three state championships. Beigel’s squad also won a title in 2006.

The legacy on the girls’ side of things is equally impressive. David Sullivan – whose son Sean was a key figure in each of the boys’ past three state championships- took over the girls program in 1998. Since that time the Suffield girls have won 10 NCCC championships and six state championships, including three undefeated seasons.

David Sullivan said one of the things that impressed him the most about the state championship games on Saturday was the amount of young kids from town that came to the game.

The Suffield Soccer Club serves as a feeder system to the high school programs and Sullivan said there is a real sense of community and belonging when it comes to soccer in Suffield.

“We have a preseason camp with the younger kids from the soccer club and we have  a night where  the kids come to practice,’’ Sullivan said. “It’s a real community affair and it’s the same thing with the boys.’’

Sullivan coached in the Suffield Soccer Club and  worked with the majority of  the players from the boys’ team from the time they were nine-years old.  For the girls’, Sullivan enlisted the help of his soccer rich family to take on the responsibility of getting the young players in town ready for the high school ranks. Sullivan’s father Danny (a CT High School Hall of Fame coach) and his brothers Brian, Mark and Danny all helped by coaching teams in town through the Suffield Soccer Club.

“We just have a community of kids in Suffield that, right from the beginning know what it means to have the right attitude and how to approach practice and games and to be ready for whatever is thrown at them,’’ Sullivan said.

Ben Woodhouse, who handled the goalkeeping duties for the boys team, said the belief in team and togetherness is shared by both girls and boys teams. “We’re all one big family,’’ Woodhouse said. “We’re all together and we all stick up for each other.’’

David Sullivan offered a perfect example of that family unity following his team’s tough loss Saturday “One of things I am extremely proud of with my girls is that not one of them wanted to leave (Saturday),’ Sullivan said.  Even though we lost a heartbreaker I asked them if they wanted me to get them a bus to go home and they all said “of course not coach. We want to stay and support the boys.’ That is what tradition is all about.’’

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