The Day's All-Area Boys' Soccer Player of the Year: Stonington's Cam Whalen
When Cam Whalen was a freshman at Stonington High School, his brother Kyle implored him to run track in addition to playing soccer.
Nowadays, the boys at Stonington take their prompts from Cam.
“Absolutely,” said track coach Ben Bowne of Whalen’s influence. “He’s brought a lot of interest to our sport. We have a lot of young soccer players on the team. … They’re falling right in line. They’re following suit. (Whalen) is a winner. He’s a great all-around person, a great ambassador for Stonington, a great ambassador for track and field.”
Whalen, who won three Eastern Connecticut Conference team championships last year in three sports, continued his remarkable success this fall as the center back and senior captain of the Stonington boys’ soccer team, which went 19-0-2 overall with ECC Division II and conference tournament titles. The Bears made a run to the Class M state tournament quarterfinals before falling to Ellington in penalty kicks.
Stonington’s defense allowed just 12 goals all season, prompting Whalen to be honored as a Class M all-state and All-New England selection.
Whalen was named The Day’s 2017 All-Area Boys’ Soccer Player of the Year, having also earned player of the year honors this spring as the Class M boys’ outdoor track champion in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles.
Stonington boys’ soccer coach Paul deCastro said the Bears’ team shirts, which feature the saying, “sweep the shed,” strongly epitomize Whalen’s humility and work ethic.
“I was reading an article that said that, ‘sweep the shed,’” deCastro said, “go about your own business. What can you give? We kind of ran with it. Be humble, be quiet, work hard. Cam is a good example. … A lot of them look up to him. You don’t have to be really loud to be a leader, but if he talked, people listened. From when he walked in to when he left, he was a class act.”
Whalen finished with three goals and seven assists this season from the back. He had a dynamic throw-in, one which he could easily get on goal from the sideline, which helped create 10 or more goals the last two seasons, deCastro said.
“He’s played youth soccer, he plays premier soccer, he’s a year-round player,” deCastro said. “He’s got a lot of talent.”
Whalen shared captain’s duties along with goalie Adam Gibbs and midfielder Jason Kilcoyne. They were three of five captains on last year’s team, a tactic deCastro used to make the transition to this season more seamless. Whalen said he would yell at a teammate only if it was necessary.
“But I’m never mad at any of the kids on the team,” Whalen said. “Me and Shane (Smith), we would get in fights on the field, but we’re such good friends it would be over in 30 seconds. They’re all good kids.
“… Winning the (ECC) tournament (last year as the underdog), we knew it was the start of something special. We knew we could build off that. Us going undefeated (this season), no one really expected it. Just to have the team we have. We have a lot of good athletes. We run track together. A lot of it had to do with the friendships. We’ve played together since we were 10 years old. We’ve come a long way. We played a lot of games together. And our coach, he gives us the keys to success.”
At one point, Stonington’s entire defense was voted as the ECC “athlete of the week,” including Whalen, Gibbs, Smith, RJ Parrilla and Will Hardy.
The Bears played three backs, with Whalen, Parrilla and Hardy and Smith directly in front of them as a defensive midfielder. Smith, Parrilla, Gibbs and Whalen all earned first team All-ECC status, with Hardy named as an honorable mention selection.
“We know our strengths,” Whalen said of the defense. “We’re all pretty good at winning balls in the air. We’re all pretty fast. We figured, if we don’t give up goals, we’re probably going to win. That was our mindset: don’t give up any goals. ... It was a true team sport."
Whalen is receiving Division I offers in track, but said he’s keeping his options open for soccer, as well. It’s a sport his mom, Nicola, played growing up and played with Cam at the bus stop beginning when he was in elementary school.
He was sorry the season ended when it did.
“You have 10 kids who might not play soccer again,” said Whalen, who is planning a career in physical therapy. “But we tend to not live in that moment (the loss), but in how well we did. It was a good way to go out, winning Division II, winning the (ECC) tournament.
“I guess sports would be my thing. People have helped me along the way to get better. A lot of my teams have impacted me. The soccer team has made a big impact. I guess I always just try to do my best.”
The Day's 2017 All-Area Boys' Soccer Team
Player of the Year — Cam Whalen (Stonington)
Forward — Trevor Hutchins (Ledyard), Alec Kosinski (East Lyme), Ethan Rose (Montville)
Midfield — Nick Esposito (East Lyme), Ian Kamperschroer (Ledyard), Jamison Magowan (Stonington), Brent Rutchick (Waterford)
Defense — Ryan Condon (Wheeler), RJ Parrilla (Stonington), Nick Tricarico (East Lyme)
Goalie — Adam Gibbs (Stonington)
Utility — Nathan Cherenzia (NFA)
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