Following a fall sports season that featured endless bumps in the road that many people did not expect to finish, the announcing of postseason awards signifies the year is complete, no matter how mutated.
Amid all of the added challenges, two boys soccer players from Bristol made impacts on the field worthy of All-State honors. The two student-athletes are Bristol Eastern senior Nate DiLoreto and Bristol Central junior Mark Palma, who were integral to the success of their teams this season.
“This year was a little weird, but it feels good to add that to the amount of accolades,” DiLoreto said. “I was always looking forward to getting All-State. I was talking to my other captain, how we got All-Star [game] and the senior bowl, so I feel like that’s something that we really missed out on because I know a bunch of the guys from other class L schools wanted to do that. But just being honored with getting All-State, it means a lot.”
DiLoreto took home All-State recognition after serving as one of the best goalkeepers in Connecticut over the past three years. After anchoring the Lancers’ undefeated season last year, he was named all-CCC this year and became the second goalie in school history to score when he blasted a free kick from midfield. He said being named to the All-State team will be one of his most treasured accomplishments from high school.
“Just looking back on the bus rides, the locker room talks, the huddles, stuff like that, just looking back on that it feels like yesterday I was just a freshman sitting on the bench at my first Eastern [versus] Central game,” DiLoreto said. “Now I’m going on to college and playing Division I, but that’s probably one thing I’ll probably always look back on, how all these kids are going through that. I always tell them don’t take things for granted because you never know how it’s going to be.”
DiLoreto is moving on to play for the University of Hartford next year and has his sights on earning the starting role between the pipes right away. With the season over, he is continuing to work and prepare himself to make the jump to the next level.
“The only thing that really changed was my understanding of the game,” DiLoreto said. “How the pace of the play is going to be, different tactics and stuff like that. So I’m just training on how my work ethic is going to be and how I need to change my stature. So just working on being that college player that can step into those big games and work to get that starting spot.”
For Palma, the accolade of being an All-State performer came as a surprise to him despite his strong season.
“I was kind of psyched and confused at the same time, I didn’t think I was going to be All-State, but it was exciting,” Palma said. “For me, I have high expectations of myself. In people’s eyes it might have been good, but in my eyes, I didn’t do as well as I wanted to.”
Palma was the top passer for Central this year, leading the team with 10 assists in addition to his four goals. While the Rams’ record may not have been what they wanted, Palma’s ability to create scoring opportunities always kept them competitive.
“It felt great because in the beginning of the year we had to stop because covid, one of the team’s we played had a positive covid case and that shut down our season for a little bit,” Palma said. “We had to work, our whole team, to get back into the groove of things and we did pretty well with that.”
With the hopes of having a complete season next year, Palma wants to see both his team and himself put forth vastly improved performances, worthy of postseason praise.
“Hopefully, we have a chance to go far in states if we have a State Tournament next year,” Palma said. “[I want to] become All-State again and reach for higher goals like all-region and other things like that.”
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or email@example.com