Fall previews / soccer

BOYS

ECC LARGE

East Lyme

Coach: Paul Christensen (24th year)

Key returnees: Sr. F Jeff Lemmon, Sr. D Perry Fokaidos, Sr. F Alex Aquino, Sr. F Nico Francone, Sr. D Alex deLaforcade, Sr. D Kevin Hansen, Sr. G Taron Prashanin, Jr. M-D Griffin Woods.

Top newcomers: Sr. D Kevin Liang, Sr. D Tyler Marr, Sr. F Scott DeLaura, Sr. M Demetrias Ghirardi, Sr. M-D Pat Lang, Jr. F Peter Hebbel, Jr. F Gonsalo Milan, Jr. M Alex Gaito, Jr. G Zach Kosakowski, Jr. M Connor Callaghan, Jr. D Alex Wojcik, Jr. D Greg Swenson, So. M Quintin Parsons, So. M Jeremiah Northcutt, So. M Lucas Johnson, So. M Nate Delesdernier, So. M Vasilias Fokaidis, So. D Brandon Dinsmore, So. D Chris Apicelli, So. M Mitch Ryan.

Outlook: The Vikings lost eight starters to graduation from last year's team which went 13-4-3 and reached the ECC tournament semifinals, so they have a lot of key holes to fill. Despite the lack of experience, Christensen believes his team can develop into a highly competitive one, with depth at key positions helping East Lyme plow through a difficult schedule. Team chemistry and a solid work ethic are also strengths, according to the coach.

Fitch

Coach: Jay Wolfradt (3rd year)

Key returnees: Sr. F Eric Powers, Sr. F Mason Cummings, Sr. D Shawn Burns, Sr. D Andrew Perez, Jr. M Frank Norosky, Jr. G Adam Jacey.

Top newcomers: Sr. Shevon South, Jr. M Devin Lehman, So. D Dan Mewha, So. F Tyler Urena, Fr. M-F Christian Urena.

Outlook: Several players gained varsity experience as freshmen and sophomores last season, so they shouldn't be surprised by the speed of the game, according to Wolfradt who expects the Falcons to be competitive in the ECC Large and state tournament. The Falcons were 5-11 a year ago.

NFA

Coach: Robert Briones (16th year)

Key returnees: Sr. M Patrick Kudej, Sr. D Patrick Lewis, Sr. D Ryan Jacksin, Sr. M Austin Lee, Jr. M Timothy Paz, Jr. D Camden Levin, Jr. D Mason Rivera.

Top newcomers: Sr. F Erik Palomino, Sr. D Cody Poirier, Jr. D Seth Johnson, Jr. M Izaak Miller, So. F Colby Coombs.

Outlook: This will be a transition season for defending ECC Large Division champion NFA after losing 13 seniors, including all-state and All-Area midfielder Gavin Neuendorf. The Wildcats, who were 15-2-1 overall, 8-1-1 in the Large and won the ECC tournament title over 1-0 over Montville, have "great potential," according to Briones. Kudej and Paz were All-ECC selections.

Waterford

Coach: Joe Mendonca, Jr. (2nd year).

Key returnees: Sr. G Elliot Diana, Sr. D Michael Spanos, Sr. D Joseph Castelpoggi, Sr. M Ian Stygar, Sr. M Brett Pias, Jr. M Aaron Schwartz, Jr. M Schneider Jean-Pierre, Jr. M Jayse Tyropolis, So. D Kevin Zeppieri.

Top newcomers: Jr. F Yianni Longinidis, So. M Michael Castelpoggi, So. M Max Wolfley.

Outlook: The Lancers (5-10-1) are in great shape this season as they return nine starters, including all-staters Diana and Schwartz. Diana and Elliot will anchor the defense. "We have a good core returning that are comprised of both athletic and technical players," Mendonca said. "Our newcomers have experienced a good amount of varsity playing time at the end of last season. ... We are very optimistic and feel we have a good quality team that will finish in the top half of the ECC Large Division and qualify for the state tournament."

ECC MEDIUM

Ledyard

Coach: Bill Glenney (10th year).

Key returnees: Sr. M Anthony Saccone, Sr. G Jason Smith, Sr. M Mike Hughes, Sr. D Ben Bruciati, Sr. F Alex Paterson, Sr. D Steven Servedio, Sr. D T.J. Clapp-Farinah, Sr. D Bryan Raksnis, Sr. M Nate Haynes, Sr. M Christof Wegiel, Jr. D Zach Higgins.

Top newcomers: Sr. M Matt McElwee, Sr. D Ben Woodruff, Sr. D Dayton Bagg, Jr. D Caile Johnson, Jr. D Quinton Swan, Jr. M Nick Genova, So. F Walter Factor, Sr. M Ben Gill.

Outlook: The Colonels (14-6) have high expectations after sharing the division title with Montville last season. They have 13 seniors, 10 of whom played last year, along with eight starters. The defense will be strong thanks to Bruciati, Clapp-Farinah, Servedio and Smith. Ledyard graduated three of its top four scorers, but the likes of Factor, Hughes, Paterson, Saccone (an all-state selection) and Wegiel should fulfill that need. "This senior class is one of the most talented I have seen in 10 years," Glenney said. "I believe we will compete with Montville again for the ECC Medium title and have the potential to go deep in the Class M state playoffs."

Montville

Coach: Colin Delaney (9th year).

Key returnees: Sr. M-D Zachary Foley, Sr. D Andrew Fratoni, Sr. M-D Paul Hanrahan, Sr. M Connor Leeman, Sr. D Nicholas Namin, Sr. G Jacob Sorenson, Sr. M Matthew Staehle, Sr. F Jeffrey Tryon, Jr. D Gabe Diaz, Jr. F Nick Strecker.

Top newcomers: Sr. D-G Jack Greenwood, Sr. M Conner Lewis, Sr. D Mackenzie Mahn, Sr. M-F Daniel Pierce, Jr. M Stephen Rogers, Jr. M Bennett Stackpole, So. M Joshua Handler.

Outlook: Montville has the talent to win the division outright this season as it returns eight starters, including Leeman (21 goals, 16 assists) and The Day's All-Area Player of the Year in Tryon (20 goals, 16 assists), who contributed to a record-setting Montville attack a year ago. "We have a focused group with good team chemistry and a solid work ethic," Delaney said. "We will rely on a balanced attack, experience on defense, and strong leadership on the field." Montville scored a school record 79 goals last year, finishing 18-4 with a Class M state semifinal berth.

New London

Coach: Chris Vamvakides (4th year).

Key returnees: Sr. M Brayan Mora.

Top newcomers: Jr. M Corey Santana, J. M-D Kerby Appolon, Fr. M Wadlet Jean-Baptiste, Fr. M Yeison Martinez, Fr. M Bayron Mora.

Outlook: The Whalers were one of the best stories in the ECC last season as they finished 9-5-2 in the regular season and qualified for the state tournament for the first time in 15 years. The challenge for this year's team is to repeat that feat, and it'll have to do so after graduating eight key seniors. Vamvakides is encouraged by the potential of the returning players and newcomers.

Stonington

Coach: Paul deCastro (5th year).

Key returnees: Sr. D Chris Chapman, Sr. F Zac Goldberg, Sr. D Aaron Williams, Sr. M Dan Riordan, Jr. G Steven Zelepos, So. M Jake DeLapp, So. D Ian Kilcoyne.

Top newcomers: Jr. M Carlos Neto, Jr. D Ethan Schroder, Jr. M Dan Bockowski, Jr. D Thomas St. Rock, Fr. D Andrew Frosti, Fr. F Chris Tsang, Fr. D Kyle Whalen, Fr. G Will Iorio.

Outlook: The back four will be stronger than ever, led by Chapman and Kilcoyne, fronting Zelepos, whom deCastro said will be solid. The Bears (1-13-2) have five seniors who recorded significant playing time last year. DeCastro is looking for DeLapp, Goldberg and Riordan, an All-ECC selection, to lead the offense and said that a few of the freshmen could also contribute. Neto is a Brazilian exhange student who could help in the midfield or at forward.

ECC SMALL

St. Bernard

Coach: Joseph Purtill (2nd year).

Key returnees: Sr. G Kevin Kersey, Sr. D Eric Brown, Jr. M Pete Stanners, Jr. D Anthony Malchiodi, Jr. F Ryan Dillon, Jr. M Nick Feeney.

Top newcomers: Sr. F Victor Dai, Sr. D John Amarello, Sr. D Austin LaCroix, Jr. M Bronson Robinson, Jr. M J.T. Gorman, So. F Tim Bouchard, So. M Gavin Jones, So. M Logan LaCroix, Fr. D Matt Sauchuk, Fr. M Ian Violette, Fr. F David Abraham, Fr. F Tinh Nguyen.

Outlook: The Saints (5-11) have worked very well in the preseason. At this point, the defensive shape is slightly ahead of the attacking shape. If they can be competitive in their crossover games, Purtill believes they will put themselves in position to qualify for the state tournament.

Wheeler

Coach: Joe Mendonca Sr. (15th year).

Key returnees: Sr. F Justin Audoin, Sr. M Alfredo Carlson, Sr. D Mark Durham, Sr. F John Mulhern, Sr. G Jacob Sylvestre, Jr. F Joe Cherenzia, Jr. D Leo Sierra, Jr. D Ryan Sylvestre, So. M T.J. Condon, So M Peyton Mulhern, So. D Tom Steinbrecher.

Top newcomers: Jr. F Jared Lampert, Jr. D Devin Hilbert, So. F Simon Lindsey, Sr. D Andrew Swift.

Outlook: Wheeler has a small team of 15 players and will not field a junior varsity squad, but the five returning seniors, all of whom are captains, have been playing together their entire careers and should make the Lions (4-8-1) competitive barring injury. "Right now I want to make sure we're fit because most of these kids are going to play 80 minutes," Mendonca said. "As long as we stay healthy and we're going to try to make the state tournament. ... I want to let them have fun, be competitive and if good things come our way, great."

OTHERS

Grasso Tech

Coach: Paul Jones (1st year).

Key returnees: Sr. F Corey Horelick, Sr. G-M Mario Tedeschi, Sr. M Chase Gilman, Sr. F Matisse Vennet, Sr. F Conrad Beebe, Sr. F-M Toussaint Bradford.

Outlook: Jones takes over a program that finished 9-6 during last year's regular season and qualified for the Class S tournament. "We hope to have a very competitive season in our conference and win enough games to make the state tournament," Jones said.

Norwich Tech

Coach: Dave Gryzch (4th year)

Key returnees: D Nick Backus, D Derek Klein.

Outlook: The Warriors are in a rebuilding mode after losing their top offensive threat (Billy Coughlin) and top defender (Brenden Liebel) to graduation.

Old Lyme

Coach: Marc Vendetti (15th year)

Key returnees: Sr. M Robert Poirier, Sr. M Travis Russell, Sr. M-B George Logan, Sr. M-B Paul Burdick, Sr. B Nate Carabello, Sr. B Spencer Ward, Sr. F Jabez Crook, Sr. B Aiden O'Donnell, Jr. G Spencer Saunders, Jr. M Eric Behringer, Jr. B Jeff Davis.

Top newcomers: Jr. M Josh Krasney, So. B-M Rowan Hallahan, So. Alex Clippinger, Fr. F Nate Peduzzi.

Outlook: The Wildcats return a strong core of experienced players and will look to mix in several new ones. "All members of the squad remain committed to getting better with each training session," Vendetti said, "and operate with a belief that the quality of our preparation gives us the best chance for a quality result."

Williams

Coach: Kevin Larrow (3rd year)

Key returnees: Sr. M Humbert Polito, Sr. M Adam Collins, Sr. M Juan Perez, Sr. M Parker Douglas, Sr. G Aaron Hosking, Jr. D Andrew Meagher, Jr. F Sotiraq Vangjeli, Jr. D-M Ben Dameron.

Top newcomers: Jr. G Chris Collins, So. D Xavier Mills, So. M Jack Fader, Fr. D Ashton Kozlowski.

Outlook: The Blues lost a strong core of players that helped lead them to last season's SENE semifinals. They have graduation losses on the defensive end, but they return almost the entire midfield. "If the new players can respond to the demands of playing competitive varsity soccer, then the boys should have another strong year," Larrow said. "If the team remains healthy, then they should make the SENE playoffs for a third year in a row."

GIRLS

ECC Large

East Lyme

Coach: Rachel Redding (8th year)

Key returnees: Sr. D Lindsay Schneider, Sr. D Madison Horner, Sr. G Allison Stoddard, Jr. F Meredith Moore, So. M Samantha Lee.

Outlook: The Vikings (8-6-3) lost the ECC's leading scorer in Kennedy Nickerson (22 goals), who graduated with career totals of 51 goals and 21 assists, but the team has a number of competitive multi-sport athletes such as Schneider (lacrosse), Horner (softball) and Stoddard (basketball), who will work hard to win. "I feel like we could be a really, good, competitive team," Redding said. "We have to continue working hard. Kennedy played a huge role for us; there are big shoes to fill and they're all working hard to do that." East Lyme looks to Moore to pick up the slack on offense.

Fitch

Coach: Todd Higgins (7th year)

Key returnees: Sr. F Beth Wallace, Sr. M-D Christina Szczesny, Sr. D Chloe Taylor, Sr. M Holly Zeppieri, Jr. D Caroline Entwistle, Jr. G Nicole Sexton, So. F Alison Clarke.

Top newcomers: Sr. M Corey St. Louis, Sr. M Krystal Czapek, Sr. M Nancy Fitzmorris, Sr. M Mynda Sebastian, Jr. D Abigail Plungis, Jr. G Shea Berry, So. D Katie Grant, So. M Montana Woods, So. M Lauran Szczesny.

Outlook: The Falcons (4-10-2) look to be successful this season with a strong and experienced defense and also returning their two leading scorers.

NFA

Coach: Steve Brunetti (4th year)

Key returnees: Sr. M Megan Gada, Sr. F Savannah Rivera, Sr. G Katherine Beasley, Sr. D Olivia Marks, Sr. D Abigail McConnell, Jr. M Nicole Craig, Jr. F Shania Homiski, Jr. D Gabbi Wise, Jr. M Charlotte Van Sambeck, So. M Sophia Formiglio.

Top newcomers: Jr. M Sarah Falman-Florez, So. D Julia Roderick, So. M Hailey Turano, So. M Mya Bell, So. F Casidy Marshall, So. M Julia Marshall, Fr. M Nicole Kolodziejczak.

Outlook: Brunetti believes he has a good combination of young talent and strong seniors, which should put the Wildcats (11-5) in a good position to win games. Gada was an All-ECC and All-Area pick last season.

Waterford

Coach: Rob Brule (13th year)

Key returnees: Sr. M Emily Skinner, Sr. D Cayla Cecchini, Sr. G Julia Zawacki, Sr. D Sophia Mallari, Sr. F Hannah Scahill, Jr. F Melina Spanos, Jr. M Genaya Loftis, Jr. D Hannah Swanson, So. D Sally Scarpa, So. M Summer Wyatt.

Top newcomers: Fr. M Claire Hurley.

Outlook: The Lancers (13-6-2) are looking to defend their ECC Large Division title and Brule says he's excited about the potential. "Defensively, we need to establish ourselves in the early season and make good decisions," Brule said, highlighting the keys. Skinner and Hurley, a standout freshman, will lead the midfield, while Spanos (14 goals, 5 assists) and Scahill will be asked to carry the load on the forward line. Brule said Zawacki has confidence in goal. Spanos was an All-ECC and All-Area pick last year as a sophomore. Waterford was the ECC tournament runner-up last year, falling to Bacon Academy.

ECC Medium

Ledyard

Coach: Clive Prior (6th year)

Key returnees: Sr. D Michaela Holland, Sr. M Kayla Fowler, Sr. D Jordan Bierman, Jr. F Olivia Delgrosso, So. M Carly Loy.

Top newcomers: So. D Ellie Phetteplace, Fr. F Kelly Lamb, Fr. D Alexis Vetrano, Fr. F Allysa Samson, Fr. M Olivia Holubecki.

Outlook: Ledyard (3-11-2) has a good combination of strong senior leadership and talented underclassmen, which should help the Colonels improve from a year ago. Holland was a Class S all-state selection during girls' lacrosse season, where she helped Ledyard to its second straight ECC Small Division championship.

Montville

Coach: April Parady (1st year)

Key returnees: Sr. G Meagan Autencio, Sr. M Jennifer McNamara, Sr. D Rachael Orbe, Jr. M Abby McAdams, Jr. F Paige Skinner, So. D Hanna Marchini, So. D Stefanie Szot.

Top newcomers: So. M Nicole Dutka, So. M Hanna Meyers, So. F Caitlin Turney.

Outlook: A team dominated by underclassmen looks to rebound after failing to qualify for the postseason last year. Parady was assistant coach four seasons for the Indians (3-12-2) before taking over for Allison Delaney. McNamara was an All-ECC first team selection last season.

New London

Coach: Kevin Hanrahan (1st year)

Key returnees: Sr. D Tathiana Jean-Baptiste, Jr. M Bianca Timpano, Jr. M-F Brianna Parks, Jr. F-M Corinna Kraemer, Jr. D Soraya Colon-Milan.

Top newcomers: Jr. F Francine Jacque, Fr. M-F Mia Santana, Fr. D Olivia Santana, Fr. G Kenya Capers.

Outlook: Hanrahan, previously an assistant coach for the boys' team, hopes to build a winning team that plays hard. The Whalers (2-14) have a lot of talented players, according to Hanrahan.

Stonington

Coach: Dave Walsh (19th season)

Key returnees: Sr. F Christina Connor, Sr. M Danielle Jacobs, Sr. D Mollie Kim, Sr. M Sophia Moore, Jr. M Amanda Thomas, So. G Gabi Hoops, So. D Caroline Kim, So. F Ali Cullen, So. D Megan Sartor, So. G MacKenzie Segreto, So. F Gabby Silva, So. D Kaitlyn Whipple.

Top newcomers: Jr. M Kat Faulise, Jr. D Charlotte McSweeney, Jr. D Quinn Slocum, So. M Meredith Hallisey, So. F Erin McCann, So. M Kaeli Novak, So. M Tara Watrous, Fr. F Ella Rath, Fr. D Gabby Soscia, Fr. D Sarah Thomas.

Outlook: The Bears (13-6) are very young and have to replace all-time leader scorer Kelsey Thomas, but this is the most technical team that they've had in a very long time, according to Walsh. They expect to be very competitive. Moore was a a first team all-conference pick and Hoops was a member of The Day's All-Area team in goal, finishing with six shutouts.

Small Division

St. Bernard

Coach: Chris Ghiglia (7th year)

Key returnees: Sr. D Maria Theiler, Sr. M Elizabeth Hodge, Jr. D Gretchen Greene, Jr. D Kiely Smith, Jr. M Natalie McPhee, Jr. M Ali Patterson, Jr. M Mackenzie Nagy, Jr. F Ali Regan, So. M Shannon Amarello.

Top newcomers: Jr. D Brittany Walenta, So. G Alex Santiago, Fr. M Ali Andrade, Fr. M Courtney Rose, Fr. G Melissa Fratoni.

Outlook: The Saints are coming of a 12-4 regular season and a share of the ECC Small Division (with Griswold). "We are hoping to exceed last year's achievement as we have a very good core of returning players," Ghiglia said. "Our goal is to play as many games in November as possible." St. Bernard, which has to replace all-stater Kayla Paris's 18 goals, is striving to create a balanced attack. Greene was an All-ECC pick on defense.

Wheeler

Coach: Charles Roark (1st year)

Key returnees: Sr. Taylor Mathwich, Sr. Ashley Souza, Sr. Alison Neddeau, Jr. Jess Morgan, Jr. Jess Muller, Jr. Hanna Vetrovec, Jr. Mirandah Ackley, So. Kylie Baker, So. Maddy Jones.

Top newcomers: So. Kaite Morgan, Fr. Raven Houck, Fr. Tessa Baaka.

Outlook: A strong and experienced defensive backfield combined with a very athletic midfield and speed up top will make the Lions (7-8-2) more competitive this season. Mathwich and Morgan will serve as captains.

Other

Grasso Tech

Coach: Heidi DeCosta (5th year)

Key returnees: Sr. F Naomi Munton, Sr. D Cassie Holt, Sr. D Casey Mercado, Sr. D Tiana Edwards, Sr. M Kylynn Washington, Sr. M Debbie Flores, Jr. G Tonia Johnson, So. M Miranda Murry

Outlook: The Eagles have a strong returning group this year. With veteran players in all positions, they are looking forward to a great year. Munton is an all-conference forward.

Old Lyme

Coach: Paul Gleason (1st year)

Key returnees: Sr. M Gabby Vernacatola, Sr. D Aggie Forstein, Jr. D Jessica Lee, Jr. G Meredith Britton, Jr. M Christina Cain, Jr. D Hannah Behringer, Jr. F Lexi Sibley, So. F Alston Rountree, So. M Meredith Aird, So. F Hannah O'Brien, So. D Catie Quaratella.

Top newcomers: So. D Julia Strycharz, Fr. F Silja Forstein, Fr. M Sloane Sweiter, Fr. F Kyra Teixeira, Fr. G Tori Sims.

Outlook: The Wildcats are young but still expect to be competitive in the Shoreline Conference. According to Gleason, his team is coming together nicely and looking forward to their first game.

Williams School

Coach: Tom Butler (1st year)

Key returnees: Sr. F Emily Hamilton, Sr. F Cassidy Taylor.

Top newcomers: D Sarah Wilkinson, M Abby Xenelis.

Outlook: Butler is looking for to a very exciting season with an emphasis on possession, patience and playing with a sense of freedom and creativity.

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