Naseem Thompson and His THS Teammates Hope to Light up State Tourney. By John Torsiello.
By, JOHN TORSIELLO
After an 11-win regular season and a trip to the semifinals of the Naugatuck Valley League Tournament, one of the stars of the Torrington High School boys soccer team, Naseem Thompson, says his team’s remaining goal is quite simple; make a deep run and perhaps even win the upcoming CIAC state Class L tourney.
“Our team is looking forward to winning a state championship,” said the junior who has 26 goals this season. “We have a great team, we have great camaraderie on the field and off the field. I am honored to be a part of the team. We are all best friends on the field one team, one aim that is to win. We all are each other’s strength, each player helping the other.”
Torrington opens up Class L state tournament action Tuesday night at home when the Raiders, seeded seventh, play host to 26th-ranked Branford (6-9-1) at the THS field. The winner moves on to second round play Thursday at 2 p.m. against the winner of the 10th-ranked Wethersfield (9-6-1) and 23rd-ranked Maloney (6-8-2) contest, with the higher ranked team getting the home field advantage.
The Raiders enjoyed a solid, if somewhat up and down, regular season. They finished off the regular campaign in fine fashion, winning four games in a row and five of their last six to go in the NVL Tournament with a head of steam. The Raiders outscored their regular season opponents by a whopping 49-18 margin.
The offense was quieted by Woodland in the NVL Tournament, with the Hawks posting a 1-0 win in the semifinals.
Thompson was a big part of Torrington’s explosiveness on offense. In addition to his 26 goals, he added seven assists to rank as one of the top schoolboy scorers in the state.
Thompson has been playing soccer since the tender age of five. “I started playing the sport at a grassroots program back in my home country of St. Kitts, learning the basics of the game. I was also a part of my primary school soccer team, The Seven Day Adventist School. I also played the sport with the older guys in my community ‘Lime Kiln’ back in St Kitts.”
Thompson moved from St. Kitts in 2012 to New York then moved from New York to Torrington in that same year, and has been living in Torrington approximately five years. His favorite subjects in school are history and art. In addition to soccer, he competes with the THS track and field team and plays tennis.
Thompson said what he loves most about the game of soccer, and sports in general, is “the adrenaline rush, the competitiveness that sport creates, the excitement of winning a game, and most of all the team spirit among the players.”
The young man believes his strengths as a player are his speed, an ability to make plays, and his “natural skills of controlling the ball on the field against my opponents.” This season, Thompson has played forward and right wing for the Raiders.
Asked what his favorite moment on the soccer field has been, Thompson said, “every time the ball goes in the back of the net,” which, of course has happened quite often this season. He is working hard on his ultimate goal in the sport; to be a professional player at some point down the road.
THS head coach Mike Fritch is a big fan. “Naseem is indispensable. He is that rare striker who can do it all. He can blow past you with his speed, or set you up with a few moves, which allows him just the half-second needed to get a shot off. Once he dedicates himself during the offseason to work on his right foot, he is going to be very, very hard to defend. Off the field he has a great personality. He is very easy going and liked by all his teammates and coaches. I am just glad he is only a junior and I get to coach him and be around him another year.”
Hopefully, for Mike Fritch, Naseem Thompson and the rest of the Torrington boys soccer team, Tuesday will be the start of a fun ride through the state tournament.