BRISTOL - The Bristol Eastern boys soccer team hasn‚Äôt made it out of the first round of the state tournament since 2009.
This year may be the Lancers‚Äô best chance to do so since then, led by a budding star in sophomore goalkeeper Nate DiLoreto and Dante Costantiello at sweeper anchoring a defensive unit that doesn‚Äôt let much by them.
DiLoreto had 11 saves against Southington and late in the second half made big stops to deny the Blue Knights their second goal of the game, which would have tied it at 2.
The sophomore has been a standout in his first year as the starter and his ability to make clutch saves has impressed.
‚ÄúFor being a sophomore, he‚Äôs out there ready to go and I haven‚Äôt seen him flinch at all. I‚Äôve seen him very steady,‚ÄĚ Bristol Eastern coach Bill Sweet said. ‚ÄúHe can sharpen up a few things, he knows, and he comes to me and says he could do things better here and there. But also he knows he‚Äôs a force back there. Even [the Southington coach] complimented him. He‚Äôs a strong goalie and just being a sophomore, there‚Äôs better days ahead.‚ÄĚ
Costantiello has helped the young keeper adjust to the varsity level as he heads the defense at sweeper. He has stopped plenty of offensive attacks in his career.
When opponents play the Lancers, they know Costantiello isn‚Äôt an easy player to get past.
‚ÄúThat sweeper did a really good job all night,‚ÄĚ Southington head coach Dave Yanosy said of Costantiello. ‚ÄúHe was solid and they‚Äôre a tough defense.‚ÄĚ
DiLoreto and Costantiello may head Bristol Eastern‚Äôs defense that has surrendered just six goals in 10 games, but the 7-2-1 season isn‚Äôt just about them.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve played that role since freshman year and it‚Äôs just the fact of having everybody around you making you better too,‚ÄĚ Costantiello said. ‚ÄúSo it‚Äôs the whole team helping on defense.‚ÄĚ
The sophomore goalkeeper wasn‚Äôt going to disagree.
‚ÄúYeah, going off what Nate said, it‚Äôs definitely more than just me and him,‚ÄĚ DiLoreto said. ‚ÄúEveryone is doing their part and helping out.‚ÄĚ
Three of the Lancers‚Äô six goals allowed came against Hall (9-1), a top Class LL team that‚Äôs scored three goals in all but three of its 10 games.
And Bristol Eastern has six shutouts on the season, coming against New Britain, Berlin, Platt, Tolland, Maloney and Middletown.
If the defense holds up, Bristol Eastern is in a good spot to do what it hasn‚Äôt done in nine years.
‚ÄúRight now I think they believe anything can happen, but right now we just go game to game and we‚Äôll see what happens,‚ÄĚ Sweet said. ‚ÄúI say to the guys, ‚ÄėLet‚Äôs go for it this year.‚Äô‚ÄĚ