BRISTOL - The promise of a new season could not be more enticing to the Bristol Central boys soccer team.
Entering their 2021 campaign with a deep and talented senior class, the Rams are intent on washing away the memories of last season. Their 2020 season started with a two-week quarantine after finding out they were potentially exposed to covid about two hours before their first game.
Central recovered to finish the season 6-5-1, but not without another week-long break that heavily condensed its schedule and forced it to play four games in five days. With all of that in the past, the team is looking forward to playing a full schedule and is hoping to qualify for the state tournament.
“The energy is really high right now,” head coach Nate Jandreau said. “Guys are really stoked, they want to get playing. We have a good group of guys back, a lot of seniors, a lot of guys who have logged a lot of varsity minutes. They’ve been playing all summer in summer leagues and conditioning with each other all summer. They’re ready to go.”
Captaining the Rams this year will be seniors Mark Palma, Carson Rivoira and Hayden Caudill. Palma earned all-state honors last season after posting four goals and 10 assists in 12 games last season while Rivoira, in his second year as captain, led the team in scoring with six goals and four assists. Caudill will miss all of this season with an injury and Jandreau said his contributions are irreplaceable, but the team will have to make up for his absence.
“We’re going to be a team that has a lot of possessions, we’re going to move the ball really well and these guys are going to play for each other and work really hard,” Jandreau said. “We have a lot of positive energy, guys don’t get down on each other, they pick each other up. It’s fun to see the way that they play because it’s a little different than we’ve played in the past. They pass the ball better with one and two touches better than any team that I’ve had. It’ll be a different style of play and it’ll be fun to watch.”
Jandreau also said he envisions a quality season from senior defensive midfielder Ethan Crumrine who anchored Central in the middle of its formation last year. Crumrine will play in front of sophomore goalkeeper Harry Ross, who started some games last season but will take over the starting role full time this year.
The Rams open their season Thursday on the road against Middletown, a team they were unable to play last year, but beat 4-3 two years ago. Central is playing 13 different teams this year after being stuck playing the same teams from its pod within the CCC last season everyone is excited to see a wider variety of competition.
“The one thing the guys are certainly looking forward to is having, not just a state tournament, but having the ability to play different teams,” Jandreau said. “We only had 12 games [last year] and it was basically against the same five or six teams. They’re really looking forward to playing some different teams, hopefully making a state tournament game and getting back on that bus and starting to travel to some places and playing some difficult games.”
Following a strange season that ended without state or conference tournaments, teams are unsure of how they compare to their competition and their own teams of previous years. The Rams will have four scrimmages under their belts by the time the season starts, but there is not true replacement for live game speed.
“I don’t want to say last year was a throwaway, but it’s really hard to gauge what other teams have,” Jandreau said. “We only had to play a couple of teams, plus we had this condensed schedule where we were playing three games in four days, and four games in five days. It’s not really a good barometer of what teams are going to be like this year, so I really don’t know what other teams are going to be. Trying to judge where we’re going to be at is a little difficult, but I would expect us to compete and finish on the right side of .500. We’ve started to set goals for ourselves and the tournament is definitely a goal, and competing in the league as well.”
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or email@example.com.