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Tough season for Torrington girls soccer. What can be done about the dwindling numbers of players?

POSTED October 25, 2016
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

TORRINGTON: It has not been an easy season for the Torrington girls’ soccer team as they prepare to put a wrap on their 2016 campaign on Wednesday when they visit Woodland.

This year will mark the third straight season the Raiders, under head coach Mario Longobucco, have failed to make the post season, but don’t let the record fool you.

The reason for the decline in the program is not because of a lack of effort or skilled coaching or support from a passionate fan base but because of the extreme lack of girls coming out to play the game.

“This group is a really great bunch of kids,” Longobucco said. “Their only fault is that there isn’t enough of them.”

The pre-season had Longobucco wondering how he was going to be able to field a team every game, even if no one went down to injury. He had no margin for error or injury.

Torrington sits at 4-11 with that last game versus 13-1-1 Woodland coming up this week. The campaign featured wins over Derby (9-0) and a three-game winning streak against Ansonia (1-0), Seymour (2-0) and Sacred Heart (4-2) that at the time evened their record at 4-4.

“It certainly hasn’t been an easy couple of years for this bunch,” Longobucco said. “We haven’t made the post season now for three years. Last year we had one new freshman player, this year two. Despite that though, this group of seniors has remained tight knit. There has been very little drama. We have new players and players who have played for four year. We have players who never played before this year and girls who have played together since elementary school. We have some real serious players and players who just play for fun. It’s a real mixed bag to be sure.”

Nine seniors were celebrated on Monday night during Senior Night festivities.

They include Colleen Kilgore, Caitlin Perugini, Erica Morrison, Ali Bottari, Gina Lucia, Brianna Klies, Jessica Teti, Aubrey Peterson-Hague and Alexis Tyrrell.  

Morrison started in goal as the season started but was injured and missed the remainder of the year, forcing Longobucco to use Tyrrell, one of the squads best offensive weapons in net, further weakening the team’s ability to find the back of the net.

Peterson-Hague, who started the season as the team manager, stepped up for her team and played when the numbers started to dwindle early on. It’s been that kind of year.

When Longobucco came on board some eight years ago, his numbers sat at about 35. The thought of that many available players might be tears to his eyes at this point. He would settle for 20 come next year but that does not look like it is going to happen.

The reason for the lack on numbers in girls’ sports are numerous, some have to do with kids going from the middle school to other area schools for specific skill sets in vocational schools, but how many are leaving because of unknown reasons?   

Seeing players on opposing teams who could have spent their four years playing and learning at Torrington High School is not easy for the head coach to watch and he doesn’t see it getting any better.  

“We had a preseason game against Wamogo. There were six girls on Warriors roster that should be playing soccer at THS,” Longobucco said. “Nearly thirty three percent of last year’s eighth graders (from Torrington Middle School) went on to go to a different high school rather than THS. Despite that, the Board of Education still went ahead and cut middle school sports along with a lot of other valuable programs. Girl’s athletics are in serious trouble, starting right now and getting worse after next year. Soccer, softball, basketball, swimming all of their numbers are low. These kids deserve better than that.”

Longobucco has long been a tremendous supporter of all things Torrington High School and things that make this community better like the now two year old Robert H. Frost Complex that he helped make happen through he tireless efforts.

His frustration is real, he’s been sounding the alarm bell for more than a few years now on the issue of girl’s athletics at THS.

Maybe it’s time for the powers that be to see the issue as well.

Athletics plays a huge part in the overall education of our children. It keeps some kids in school. It helps create some of the best citizens to ever come out of our schools and to let them fall any farther behind is in no one’s best interest.     

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