THS girls soccer continues to battle a tough numbers game. A look at the 2017 team.
TORRINGTON: As the Torrington girls' soccer team prepares for their upcoming 2017 campaign, the questions are less around what will they do during the season but how can the high school get their participation numbers up.
In 2016 the Raiders, under head coach Mario Longobucco had one goal; try and make sure they could put 11 healthy players on the pitch every couple of days.
It was not easy, not with 14 players on a short list which made up their roster.
Torrington posted a 5-11 mark a year ago and this year, bring numbers that on paper look good but the challenge will be in experience, something that will only come with time.
17 players are currently on the roster as play gets underway later this week when the Raiders open their season on the road against rival Naugatuck on Friday, September 8 at 3:45.
The Raiders will be road warriors early in the fall season, playing five of their first six on the road.
Their home opener will be on Thursday, September 14 at 6 p.m. against Oxford.
For the 2017 campaign, Longobucco has named seniors Cassie Fedor and Shannon Reardon as captains and with a large amount of the team having little to no soccer experience, they will each play key roles and a whole lot of minutes.
This year marks the third year that there have not been sports available at the Torrington Middle School due to budget cuts and it's becoming painfully obvious that it is affecting the number of girls who play sports of any kind at THS.
If a student doesn't join the Torrington Youth Soccer program during middle school, they will more than likely come to the high school without even a basic knowledge of how the game is played, a huge challenge for the head coach.
"Right now, we are teaching a lot of the team how the game is played.Â" Longobucco said. "From what the lines mean to how to throw a ball in, we are starting a square one."
In his eight years, this year is easily the most challenging for Longobucco who had between 28-35 players per season over his first three years as head coach.
Along with the two captains, fellow seniors Cara Baker, Alexis Apruzzese and Maddie Cardoza will play in multiple positions during games as the Raiders look to improve from 2016.
An impressive young goalie, Abby McCarthy is showing promise, as is Payton Graham with both players having spent time playing Premier Soccer.
Torrington is down to a Class M school in girls' soccer, girls' volleyball and football due to their low numbers at the high school.
Boys soccer remains in Class L with decent numbers returning this year.
The answer is not an easy one but getting more students involved in athletics at the high school can play a critical part in their education.
For now, Longobucco will do his best to keep his team competitive until the downward trend hopefully turns around.