Decreasing numbers in Torrington effecting girls soccer future.
TORRINGTON: It’s a numbers game and at the moment, the Torrington area girls’ soccer movement is on the wrong side of it.
Steady drops in the number of girls trying out for soccer in Torrington coupled with a lack of a sustained feeder program has Raider head coach Mario Longobucco wondering about the future of not only the junior varsity squad but that of the varsity as well.
After completing his fifth year at the helm of the Raiders high school program, Longobucco is hoping to re-ignite the interest in soccer in the city in general.
“When I first came here,” Longobucco said. “We had between 35 and 39 girls come out each year. We instituted a no cut policy so we could find someplace for all the girls to play. Over the years though, that number continues to go down. I’m worried we won’t have enough players to field a JV team as soon as next year.”
These teams as usually fed by a feeder program run by Torrington Youth Soccer and at the high school level, coaches could count on an equal, if not greater number of newcomers to take counter graduation rates.
Trouble is, the travel teams in Torrington have dried up, leaving an increasingly small pool of players that continues to shrink.
Other communities in the area have fared better because their travel teams consistently feed the middle and high school levels.
Burlington, for example, has at five teams, as does Litchfield. In the Naugatuck Valley League, Watertown has eight, Naugatuck five and Wolcott four.
Other schools in the NVL have already had to go without JV squads, including Derby and Sacred Heart.
It’s unclear why the numbers for the boys program at Torrington High School remain high upwards of 50 players trying out this past season while the girls have struggled to reach the 30 mark.
School that have significant numbers usually follow a pattern of having large feeder systems plus several players who play on Premier Teams throughout the area.
An average team may get as many as 10 players move up to the high school level from those teams and along with helping the numbers, it ups the quality of play as students who play at that level help make their teams at the high school level that much stronger.
What can be done?
According to Longobucco, keeping a no-cut policy at all levels from middle school up should help retain players who will play once they graduate eighth grade.
“If a player gets cut at the middle school level,” Longobucco said, “It’s unlikely they will come out once they reach high school.”
In the Berkshire League, consistent State Tournament runs by teams like Mills and this year by Housatonic should help numbers increase as players look forward to playing for successful programs.
The Mountaineers rocked the Falls Village soccer world with their run to the Class S title game and return a large core group that should keep the interest up at the lower levels before high school.
One way or another though, Longobucco and the Raiders need to get the momentum for girls soccer back in Torrington before the numbers drop to a program endangering level.