In a year in which everyone was simply thankful to get on the field, the boys soccer season was a bumpy ride for many of the local teams, but that didn’t stop many of their players from posting successful seasons worthy of making this year’s All-Bristol Press Boys Soccer Team.
After losing the first two weeks of its season, Bristol Central rebounded strongly to finish third in CCC Region B with a 5-4-2 record in the regular season. The Rams lost their first postseason matchup in the region, but bounced back to take third place with their second win of the season over Bristol Eastern.
Needing to replace a large amount of scoring from last season, Carson Rivoira stepped up as one of the top scorers for his team in 2020 with six goals in addition to four assists. A captain as junior, Rivoira succeeded in controlling the Rams’ offensive third despite playing much of the season injured.
“[A] big strong forward, [he] did a wonderful job holding the ball for us up top and played the majority of the year injured,” head coach Nate Jandreau said. “In a healthy, full year, he is going to be a major matchup problem for teams. His leadership was a crucial part to our team’s success this year.”
The primary facilitator for the Rams’ offense was Mark Palma who notched 10 assists and four goals in 13 contests this season. For a team that looked to a variety of players for scoring, Palma was leader in creating chances.
“Dynamic with the ball at his feet, [this was] his second straight year with double digit assists,” Jandreau said. “He looks to play the ball into dangerous places and get his teammates involved. He was the main reason we were able to keep possession of the ball so often.”
Centrals’ defense was a crucial piece to their success this season and that was solidified by a strong back line and skilled midfield. Leading that midfield was junior Ethan Crumrine who did his best to stop his opponent’s offensive chances before they started.
“The things Ethan did for us won’t show up on a stat sheet,” Jandreau said. “He played 80 minutes a game consistently in a defensive center midfield role. He was often the one to win the ball in a tough challenge, in the air or on the ground, and get the ball to Mark who would then set up a goal scorer.”
Playing behind Crumrine at center back was senior Xavier Browne who served as captain in his final season. A naturally talented soccer player, he anchored the Rams’ back line despite defense being entirely new to him.
“Making the switch to defense this year the senior was up to the task,” Jandreau said. “He never once complained that he was playing a position he had never played before. He worked hard every day and brought a toughness to the back line that every good team needs. A fantastic teammate and a terrific leader. He will be missed.”
The Bristol Eastern boys soccer team was unable to recreate the magic of its undefeated 2019 campaign, but powered through a challenging season to a 4-3-4 record and the final spot in the CCC Region B postseason.
Senior goalkeeper and captain Nate DiLoreto continued to prove why he’ll be playing for the University of Hartford next year. He was named a CCC Region B all star after finishing the year with three clean sheets and became the second netminder in program history to score a goal.
“Nate has been a steady force for us for three years,” head coach Bill Sweet said. “He’s adept at positioning, reading shots, and distributing the ball. Each year he’s honed his skills and now he’s ready for the next big step.”
Playing in front of DiLoreto was his co-captain Luke Hammer who took on a leadership role with the defense this season. A CCC Region B all-star, Hammer netted a header for the Lancers to land a 2-1 win over Plainville in the regular season.
“Luke stepped into the central back role and filled it admirably,” Sweet said. “His ability to direct play and use either foot to clear balls cleanly shut off many attacks. His game-winning header against Plainville was certainly a season highlight.”
Brandon Greger played alongside Hammer on the back line and was another senior asked to play defense despite it not being his natural position.
“Brandon was asked to move from midfield to back this season and he became a solid defender,” Sweet said. “He was often called upon to cover the opponent’s toughest player and he responded consistently throughout the season, especially by winning balls on the ground or in the air.”
Lastly for the Lancers is junior Dom Femiak who was one of the team’s top offensive players with six goals and three assists. With Eastern looking to many new faces for scoring this year, Femiak showed great potential in his junior season.
“Dom was a handful for some teams,” Sweet said. “His ability to hold the ball, move smoothly left or right, and hit a strong shot with either foot made him our most dangerous player.”
Despite having its season cut short, the St. Paul boys soccer team made the most of its eight game schedule this year and have three players on the all-Press team.
Danny Bond was one of the leading scorers for the Falcons this season as he completed a four-year varsity run with the team. His offensive prowess made him the only St. Paul player selected to the all-NVL Iron Division Team.
“Danny Bond was a four-year varsity starter who had exceptional soccer skills and he created challenges for any defense,” coach Biagio Dandio said. “The kids on the team looked up to him and he has a good soccer IQ. Ultimate competitor and always gave it his all.”
Matt Grinvalsky served as the top defender for the Falcons who strengthened their back line in his junior season.
“Matt Grinvalsky is a great communicator and controlled our defense,” Dandio said. “His constant communication and play kept our team in games where our offense struggled. He’s always positive and works hard, without him we would have had a huge hole to fill.”
Junior Anthony Penisse commanded the midfield for the Falcons and served as a strong creator on offense.
“Anthony Penisse was the glue that held us together,” Dandio said. “He has a very strong soccer IQ and it shows when he’s on the field. He controlled the middle of the field and would set up the offense to succeed. He’s a team player that would do anything that he is asked to do.”
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org