The Wilton High boys soccer team will field one of its biggest and most senior-laden teams ever this fall, and that experience will be needed in what looks to be one of the most hotly contested FCIAC boys soccer seasons in memory.

“I think the league is going to be very good this year. I think there’s going to be a lot of parity. A lot of teams have a lot of seniors,” said Head Coach Jim Lewicki, whose team opens the season next Tuesday at home. “It’s going to be a case where anybody can beat anybody else. It’s going to be a dogfight.”

Fortunately, the Warriors have the numbers, and the experience, and the talent to match up with anybody. The 26-man roster features 23 seniors, and 20 returning varsity players.

Wilton hosts Bridgeport Central at 4:15 today in the season opener.

An indication of how strong the conference is this season is that Wilton was ranked seventh in the preseason coaches’ poll (although the Warriors did get one first-place vote). It’s about the lowest a Wilton team’s been ranked in the poll in Lewicki’s 12 years as head coach.

But if other teams want to underestimate the Warriors, that’s fine with Lewicki.

He said two big tests occur in the first five games against the top two teams in the preseason poll — at number-two Greenwich next Thursday, and at number-one (and defending FCIAC champ) Fairfield Ludlowe on Sept. 24.

“After five games we’ll know where we are,” he said.

https://youtu.be/LaOV0kz1vm8

As things stand now, Lewicki is confident. The Warriors return plenty of experience, and are a very cohesive group.

“They have been playing together for years. They know exactly what they need to do,” he said. “There’s a chemistry and cohesiveness with this group that don’t think I’ve ever had before. That’s why I’m excited to get going.”

Returning seniors are Ben Allbee, Harry Allers, Mitch Bascom, Jack Brandt, Dom Favilla, Cole Hawthorne , Dan Jensen, Grey Livingstone, Jordan Lord, Max Najarian, Brian Perlee, Eric Pelletier, Patrick Prinner, Matt Ravichandran, Josh Reeve, David Schneidman, Austin Slater and Timmy Watson.

Also back are juniors Owen Evershed and Nick Davatzes.

Newcomers include five seniors — Michael D’Elisa, Carlos Hernandez, Dean Kim, Noah Macdonald and Preston Turk — and one junior, Ben Watson.

Brandt, Ravichandran, Prinner and Lord are the captains of the team.

“The captains run the show, and they are guys who are great role players and know exactly what they’re supposed to do on the field,” said Lewicki.

Brandt, a first-team all-FCIAC player a year ago, led the team in goals and assists and will again be a big part of the attack in the midfield or front line.

Ravichandran (first-team all-FCIAC), Prinner (all-FCIAC East) and Lord were all starters on defense last year, along with Timmy Watson. Lord will move to defensive midfielder this season.

Lewicki said there are many pieces he can deploy, and at different areas of the field, with the team’s depth.

He said Davatzes, Schneidman, Hawthorne, Allbee, Turk, Kim, Jensen, Evershed, Macdonald, Ben Watson, D’Elisa, Pelletier and Slater were all capable of taking roles on defense, or midfield.

Or up front, where the Warriors return Reeve, Favilla, Allers and Perlee

“There’s a lot of guys I can throw in three or four positions. I’ve got a lot of weapons,” said Lewicki. “I’ve got a ton of guys I can mix and match. It’s (a matter of) getting playing time for everybody.”

Wilton graduated all-FCIAC East goalie Matt DeSantis, but Lewicki returns two seniors, Mitchell Bascom and Grey Livingstone, either of whom is ready to take over.

“I’ve got two quality keepers. They both have great skill but different styles,” he said. “I’m confident with either of them.”

One of the great things about the team is the depth of talent on all three lines.

“Everywhere we’re strong. That’s the great part about the team,” said Prinner. “We have a good back four, good midfielders, great forwards. We’re excited.”

The Warriors will be looking to make the FCIAC playoffs for the seventh year in a row, and this season are aiming for more — as in FCIAC and Class L state titles.

“There’s going to be lot of strong teams,” Prinner noted. “We just have to make sure we’re playing well each and every night and try to play our best and hopefully come out on top.”

“If we’re going to win the state title or FCIAC title, we’re going to win as a team,” said Brandt.