Thompson scores a pair. Raiders boys soccer opens with a 3-1 win over Holy Cross.
TORRINGTON: The first 15 minutes of the Torrington boys' soccer team's opening night match against rival Holy Cross could not have gone any better.
Their top scorer. Naseem Thompson, had found the back of the Crusaders net a pair of times with relative ease while the Raiders were controlling the pace of the game on the visitor's side of the field.
Over the next 25 minutes though, the Crusaders turned the tables somewhat, scoring their only goal of the game five minutes after the second Thompson goal to cut the lead to 2-1.
After a stern bit of communication by head coach Mike Fritch at the break, the Raiders tightened up an inexperienced defense and got a closing seconds insurance goal from Jimmy Friscia to take their season opener by a 3-1 final.
Look, this is a team that graduated a great deal of experience, especially on the back line and have a sophomore keeper in Kevin Hidrovo who wasn't tested often Friday night but played well.
"We're moving a lot of parts in and out," Fritch said. "We lost most of our full defense from last year so we are trying to find what works. We lost a scrimmage on Thursday because of the rain and that hurt us."
With all the new parts still being tested at various positions, it's not surprising to see some up and down play, as we did on Friday night.
Having that unspoken communication which allows teammates to know where their teammate is going to be in any situation takes time and fortunately for Torrington, it doesn't appear as if they are going to be anything but strong on offensive side of the ball in 2017.
A weapon like Thompson doesn't come along very often and when it does, it's a joy to watch. Take his first goal of 2017.
On a ball that was crossing close to a Cross defender about 25 yards away from the goal, the senior forward turned on the after burners and made up all the ground between him and the ball and then some.
In a flash, Thompson was on goal and his shot found the back-right corner at the 34:21 mark of the opening half.
Just like that. 1-0 home team.
Eight minutes later off an assist by Friscia, who had just entered the game, Thompson put Torrington up 2-0 as he streaked in front of the net, left the ball in the net and continued off towards the sidelines.
Easy, this soccer thing, right?
Not so fast, the Crusaders said.
Five minutes later off a failed Torrington clear, Cross sophomore Gennaro Genua bounced a ball off the right post and past Hidrovo to cut the lead in half.
It was one of only a handful of times the visitors had control of the action in the Raiders end and in the first half and they took advantage of the opportunity.
At the half, the Raiders made some adjustments and settled down better in the second half, holding the Crusaders at bay while they worked to find each other more often than they had in the opening half.
There's a lot of talent on this team on both ends of the pitch.
Brett Stater, the younger brother of stopper Brandon who graduated a year ago, is now roaming around on defense, taking over as that player, the one who keeps everybody around him calm when the opposition is putting offensive pressure on the team.
Alex Segovia and Tyus Phengkaen have a ton of speed, as does Friscia who had a terrific sophomore season a year ago.
It's just going to take time.
Not going to say there won't be any growing pains, because there clearly will be, but if the Raiders get everybody on the same page and pace, this could be another pretty special year in Raider-Land.