Boys soccer: Young team provides foundation for Wilton's future
While the team will be young and the pieces are still being arranged, the Wilton High boys soccer team is at least in better shape that it was a year ago at this time.
The Warriors, who open the season today at Westhill, will need to replace 13 seniors but that not quite as bad as last season, when they returned only three of 26 varsity players.
That was the highest turnover in coach Jim Lewicki’s 25 years with the program, and the result was a 4-9-3 season that saw Wilton miss the state playoffs for only the third time over that span — and first time since 2001.
This year’s team, while inexperienced, does return 10 varsity players, including several who played key minutes last season. The team’s goals are to return to the state tournament (Wilton drops back down to Class L this season) and also fight for an FCIAC playoff spot, after having its run of seven straight FCIAC playoff appearances ended.
“Hopefully as the season goes on we’ll get better and better, and that’s all you can ask for — improve every game,” said Lewicki, in his 14th season as head coach and 26th season on the sidelines. “I’m excited about this group. It’s an enthusiastic group. The have a great attitude. They have great camaraderie.”
Tri-captains are three of the players who did see action a year ago: midfielders Kevin Connolly and Johnny Brown and striker/midfielder Tim Foley.
Other returning seniors are goalie Tyler Smith, defenders Josh Bender, Ben Lucas and John Zizzadoro, and midfielder/striker Cameron Berg.
The team’s other two returning varsity players are junior backs Andrew Bucciero, the only returning full-time starter, and Anthony Catino.
Seniors new to varsity this season are Will Kalin (back), Cam Morris (back), Alem Sabovic (midfield) and Chris Sweeney (goalie).
In addition to Bucciero and Catino, the junior class features midfielder Colin Kroll, a transfer from Fairfield Prep who will have to sit the team’s first eight games, along with Chase Connolly (striker), Sean Flanagan (back/midfield), Harry Jung (midfield), Clayton Latone (back), George Murphy (back) and Matt Newfield (striker).
The team had six sophomores: Luke MacDonald (back), Carl Pfeiffer (back), Isaac Quantock (midfield), Damien Schmidt (back), Connor Uitterdijk (midfield) and Michael Zizzadoro (striker).
The varsity team also includes one freshman, Ahrav Soi (back), who is vying for a starting spot on the backline.
The roster of 28 players is the largest Lewicki’s ever had.
The Warriors will be inexperienced in the back, with only one returning starter in addition to losing last year’s keeper, Charlie Hess.
Lewicki is always hoping to generate more offense than a year ago, when Wilton tallied only 18 goals in 16 games.
“Defensively we’re going to be young. I’m looking for Connolly, Brown and Foley to bring some leadership to the team, which they’ve been doing,” said Lewicki. “My two senior keepers have done a nice job.”
Lewicki said it would take take to figure out where all the pieces fit.
“It’s going to be like putting a chess game together. It’s going to be trial by error.” he said. “In the process I think the kids will get some good experience for the next couple of years. Will we have some growing pains? Absolutely. But they have confidence they can muddle through it.”