BRISTOL - The Bristol Eastern boys soccer team returns a litany of top playmakers from last season as Bill Sweet will hit the mid-century mark of his coaching career.
St. Paul and Terryville are manned by a pair of second-year head coaches, and Central will be looking to replace a key group of playmakers and defenders. The Rams, however, will be looking to capitalize on the momentum of a run to the Class L quarterfinals in 2018.
Here are a look at the four area teams:
Head coach: Nate Jandreau (fourth season)
Last year: 6-6-4
Key losses: Hunter Peterson, Kenni Cantarero, James Nedorostek, Yanni Koci, Sebby Garay-Ortega, Ellis Carmelich
Key returnees: David Bowes, Adam Jones, Diego Naranjo, Andrew Oren, Danny Gaudoin, Carson Rivoria, Mark Palma
Outlook: Jandreau says it was an up and down season for the Rams last season, as they finished with a .500 record.
They did, however, play with consistency in the postseason, reaching the quarterfinals of the Class L state tournament, taking down Ellis Tech and Middletown before falling to eventual state champion Daniel Hand.
“Consistency is a key this year. Hopefully we can establish that early on in the season,” Jandreau said. “The outlook for the year looks like most [seasons]. It could go either way.”
Bristol Central will certainly have a tough schedule with two games against reigning Class M state champion Plainville, plus matches against rival Bristol Eastern and Class L runner-up Maloney.
“The schedule looks tough, but that’s the way it goes in the CCC,” Jandreau said.
The Rams lost three of their four starting defenders due to graduation (Peterson, Cantarero, Nedorostek) in addition to captain Carmelich, who will be playing soccer in college. Central does, however, return skilled offensive players in Bowes, Jones and Naranjo, all three of whom are senior leaders and three-year varsity players. Bowes (10) and Naranjo (8) were the team’s leading goal scorers last season.
Much of the midfield work will fall on the shoulders of sophomores Rivoria and Palma, both coming off strong freshman campaigns and have tremendous upside, and seniors Oren and goalkeeper Gaudoin are the lone returning defenders.
“If our defensive unit can come together, I think we can make a little noise,” Jandreau said. “How much the guys buy into the team and sacrifice for the good of the tam will ultimately be the key to the season. This year’s team is made up of a good group of young men in the classroom and on the field. I’m extremely excited to see how that translates into wins and losses in the weeks and months to come.”
Head coach: Bill Sweet (50th season)
Last year: 8-6-3
Key losses: Gabe Soucy, Pat Brady
Key returnees: Jake Woznicki, Dante Costantiello, Nate Diloreto, Drew Dauphinee, Kyle Cyr, Brandon Greger, Luke Hammer, Elijah Parent, Joseph Verardi, Martin Wuestoff
Outlook: Led by the powerful trio of Jake Woznicki, Dante Costantiello and Nate Diloreto, the Lancers are primed for a strong season.
Woznicki tallied 14 goals and four assists last season en route to All-State honors; Costantiello netted three goals and three assists to earn All-CCC South accolades; and Diloreto’s six shutouts as goalkeeper earned him an All-CCC South nod as well.
“We ended last year too quickly in the first round of the Class L tournament and the players came back through the winter and spring with a commitment to improve,” Sweet said. “Our practices have been positive and spirited, marked by competition at many positions. Last season, we scored 22 and gave up 20 goals, so we’re aiming to up the scoring and cut down the goals given up.”
With veterans at key positions, Sweet says the team believes it is set up to succeed in 2019 despite a tough schedule against the likes of reigning Class M state champion Plainville, Class L runner-up Maloney and Bristol Central.
“I’m also pleased with the skill and effort of our underclassmen who are pushing the veterans in our workouts,” Sweet said. “Hopefully they’ll be ready to help us when the season starts.”
Head coach: Victor Lira (second season)
Last year: 12-3-3
Key losses: Stefan Swolinski, Adam Vanlinter, Spencer Sinkwich
Key returnees: Ethan Rembish, Luke Hines, Dani Bond, Patrick Carbone, Jack Noli
Outlook: In the second season under Lira, the Falcons are seeking a second straight successful season after losing a host of standouts from 2018.
“We’re looking forward to this season,” Lira said. “This team is hungry for more. We did well last year, but we want to do better this year. We’re getting ready the best we can. We’re looking forward to play every game. Every game is important to us. We have high expectations for this year, and we’re working very hard every day to accomplish our goals.”
Head coach: Ryan McAdoo (second season)
Last year: 3-12-1
Key losses: Garrick Webster, Michael Hills
Key returnees: Evan Coviello, Jacob Zappone, Dana Mazur
Outlook: After a 2018 season that was a learning experience for McAdoo and the Kangaroos, Terryville is heading into 2019 with a positive mindset.
“By the end of last season, the team had gained some momentum, but we ran out of games to play,” McAdoo said. “We’re hoping to keep learning together and to continue the momentum we ended with last season.”
The key matchup for this season will be a night game on Oct. 4 against Thomaston at home.
Zack Carpenter can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org