Raiders sweep Ansonia in soccer. Boys, 6-1, Girls 3-1.
TORRINGTON: Losing seven core players is never easy.
Just ask Torrington boys soccer coach Mike Fritch Jr. who watched seven new players take over for a group that played together on the varsity level for three terrific years.
From their 2013 squad, the Raiders lost a top notch goalie in Zack Paniatti, Nick Mancini, John McCarthy, Shane Bierfeldt (16 goals), Shane Walker, Chris Parrotta and Dennis Cardenas.
On Tuesday, Fritch asked a new group to take charge and while they came out with an eventual 6-1 win over visiting Ansonia, there were some concerns.
“I think they had a little bit of first game jitters,” Fritch said. “We had played better in the pre-season but their all learning how to play together.”
Replacing goals was going to be a challenge and missing the team’s second leading scorer from a year ago, Amar Suljic (14), didn’t help as the game started.
Suljic had gotten a yellow card in the Raiders season ended State Tournament loss in the second round a year ago and therefore had to sit out the first game of his senior year.
Enter Kevin Vaca, who was a distributor a year ago, leading the team in assists but will be counted on to put the ball in the back of the net and you could say he got off to a pretty decent start with a hat trick.
The three goals match his total from a year ago and is just what Fritch needs, along with some of the other contributors who came through in the opener.
Junior Austin Curry owns the Raiders first goal of 2014 and it came within the first three minutes when he put a rebound into the back of the net for a fast 1-0 score.
Vaca got his first about twenty five minutes into the half, converted on a penalty kick in the second half and took an assist from senior Alex Church for his third.
Fritch especially like the goal from Curry.
“He’s a kid who has been waiting for his chance to play and he took advantage of it,” Fritch said.
Keyon Robinson added a goal in the four score second half, as did Joe Fillipini.
On the defensive side of the action, sophomore Scott Dixon was impressive in the second half as the Raiders were able to substitute freely with the lead.
Nathan Manchester won a heated competition this summer and got the start in the net for game one.
Manchester is an athletic kid with good instincts and while he gave up a goal in the second half, was not seriously challenged most of the contest.
It’s going to be a work in progress, this Raider team. Time will tell if they have what it takes to replace all that they lost a year ago.
Torrington Girls: The Raiders got off to a good start to their 2014 campaign with a 3-1 road win over Ansonia on Tuesday.
Aroya Jordan, Paige Middleton and Emily Manchester scored in the season opener while assists came from Kendra Covington and Cassie Fedor.
Casey Saade and Brie Pergola split time in the nets for Torrington 1-0.