THS boys should contend for NVL honors...By John Torsiello.
By, JOHN TORSIELLO
Optimism is high on the Torrington High School boy’s soccer team heading in the 2013 campaign. And why not?
The Raiders finished 11-4-1 during the regular season and won the Naugatuck Valley League Copper Division. The Raiders went on to lose in the NVL title game in a close one, 2-1 to Watertown in overtime. They also lost in the first round of the state Class L tournament to finish with a fine 13-6-1 overall mark.
Mike Fritch is the man heading up the Raiders this year, his third as varsity head coach after serving eight years as an assistant with the program. His overall record as head coach is 28-24-3.
“The key to the season is not to look too far ahead,” he observed this week. “We want to still take it one game at a time and get better as the season progresses. We have a strong group that is returning, but it is still going to come down to being able to work in new players into the areas in which we lost talent. We will be a work in progress at the beginning of the season. But the hope is that we will grow as a team and round into shape in the last quarter of the year. We plan on being in the Copper Division and NVL title chase.”
Torrington, which plays its home games at the Robert H. Frost Sports Complex, has some solid returning talent with which to make a run at an NVL title.
Among the team’s top offensive players are senior midfielder Shane Bierfeldt, the team’s second leading scorer last season and an ALL-NVL selection.
“Shane is responsible for distribution and leading the team from the middle,” said Fritch of one of his captains.
Junior forward Amar Suljic is “going to be the player we look to to replace the goal scoring we lost due to gradation,” said Fritch. “He has a good work rate and a strong will to compete. I expect a big season from him.”
Senior mid Chris Parrotta was the team’s third leading scorer last season and was an All-Copper Division selection.
Junior mid Alex Church will be another leader in the middle for the Raiders.
“Chris is very poised and under control at all times,” said Fritch. “He will make things happen.”
On defense, senior John McCarthy returns. He was an All-Copper Division choice last season and will serve as a team captain in 2013.
“He is the one the one I trust the most,” said Fritch, “especially in terms of defensive rotations and marking. He’s technically sound and very smart. He can read the field well and always knows what will happen before it actually does.”
Nick Mancini, a senior back, is “one of the gutsiest and strongest kids on the team,” said the coach. “He doesn’t back down from anyone and prides himself on playing defense.”
Zach Paniati is another senior captain and Fritch said he has worked hard the past three seasons to make himself one of the top goalkeepers in the league. “I really expect him to have a great year.”
Another key defensive player is senior back Seth Gesmondi.
Torrington will have to make up for key losses to graduation that included team leader and goals and assists, Jairo Borja, who was All-New England, All-State, All-Class L, All-NVL and the top senior player in the league in 2012.
Fritch said Torrington will “prefer to keep the ball on each other’s feet.” He added, “We are not a team that is going to kick and chase but will look to possess the ball to break down the defense.”
Torrington opens up its new season at home next Tuesday by entertaining Kennedy.