BRISTOL - In a season that has been more unpredictable and challenging than any other in recent memory, the Bristol Central boys soccer team is building momentum at the right time.
After losing the first 10 days of their season to quarantining, the Rams started the year 2-1-1 and looked to have no signs of lag from the time off until they lost each of their next four matches. But entering the final week of the regular season with four games on the schedule gave them plenty of opportunities to bounce back.
With two of this week's games in the books, Central looks on track to do just that by starting the week with a pair of 4-0 victories over New Britain and Plainville, which beat the Rams 5-1 the week before. These were the Rams first two matches in more than seven days after losing most of last week to rain, but once again showed few signs of rust.
“We played on Monday, then we had practice on Tuesday, then we got washed out the rest of the week and weren’t able to start practicing again [until] this week,” head coach Nate Jandreau said after the win against New Britain. “We’re trying to respond and come out and play. I was happy with the way their energy was in the first half, they got right on it early. They didn’t get down when they weren’t converting those chances and when their keeper was coming up with all of those great saves. They didn’t get down on themselves and get frustrated, they just kept playing, I was happy with that.”
The Rams are starting to find their rhythm offensively as their four-goal performances are their highest single-game scoring totals of the season, highlighted by the win over Plainville, a team that entered the match with a 7-3 record.
The key to Rams’ scoring is creating better chances and finishing more consistently near the net. Even in the 4-0 win over New Britain, Central peppered Hurricanes goalkeeper Max Szczepnik with 33 shots, but were unable to convert more because of rushed shooting and some very impressive play between the pipes from Szczepnik.
“I think it’s just focus, sometimes you get a little too excited when you get that chance,” junior Charlie Pittman said. “We just have to stay focused, stay calm and collected and just take them as they come.”
The Rams will have the opportunity to finish the year on a four-game winning streak as they set up to face Lewis Mills and Bristol Eastern on Friday and Sunday, respectively. They beat Lewis Mills 3-1 in their first matchup while falling 4-1 to the Lancers on Oct. 20. With the team energized and unified to finish the year strong, Central believes it’s position entering the CCC regional playoffs, which is set to begin Monday.
“It hasn’t been easy,” Jandreau said. “They've been able to respond to different things whether they’re not playing or the weather’s been bad or the fields are unusable. We’ve had nothing but three-game weeks and it looks like we’re going to have another one. They’ve been able to respond to that stuff so I’m proud of them for that.”
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org