Torrington boys soccer look to build on 2016 success.
TORRINGTON: As the Torrington boys' soccer 2017 campaign gets underway later this week, expectations are high that the Raiders will be able to duplicate the magic they showed on the pitch a year earlier when they put together a strong 12-6-1 mark.
That record was one that surprised a few people in a good way after the 2016 season had started with several questions as to how Torrington would fare.
Head coach Mike Fritch, now entering his eighth season, was not sure what he had when the year began in 2016 put was pleased with the upswing which he hopes will continue.
"Coming off a surprisingly successful 2016," Fritch said. "We are looking to take our game to the next level. The team has been focused on improving on last year's league standing while all along playing for a good seeding come state tournament time."
The Raiders ended the 2016 by posting a 7-2-1 mark in their last ten games and beat Branford 2-1 in their Class L State Tournament opener before falling to Wethersfield by a 4-1 final in the second round.
Naseem Thompson had a break out year for Fritch, garnering All-State and All-NVL First team honors for his offensive prowess.
Thompson is now a senior who is that player who needs but an inch to find room to fill opposing teams nets with goals.
His foot skills and blazing speed make every offensive possession an opportunity and being teamed with fellow senior Alex Segovia and junior Jimmy Friscia, give the Raiders a potent front -line combination.
Torrington lost a huge senior class, headed up by Brandon Stater (who is now playing at Western New England University) who was that calming influence all over the field that ever team needs and will be missed.
Fritch is optimistic that those who take to the pitch this year will be able to keep the momentum built last year going.
"The kids were very dedicated in the off season and I am looking forward to them bringing that determination and passion into this season," Fritch said. "We have a few veteran players to replace from last year's team and there seems to be a good collection of sophomores and juniors fighting for those minutes."
Torrington gets their 2017 campaign off and running on Friday night against rival Holy Cross at 6 p.m. at the Robert H Frost Complex.
The Crusaders are coming off a sub-par 6-10 record a year ago but the Raiders will be taking nothing for granted as the overall status of the Naugatuck Valley League looks strong.
"The NVL looks to be the strongest it has been in a while," Fritch said. "With a number of teams from all over the divisions having an opportunity to not only make the league tournament but have a chance to win the tournament."
Multiple stars like Thompson will be lining up against the Raiders in 2017.
"From an individual player stand point," Fritch said. "I don't remember so many top players returning from one year to the next. It should be a very exciting season with any number of teams comprising the top eight in the league."
Game time is 6 p.m. at the Robert H Frost on Friday night.