Boys soccer preview: Warriors face major rebuilding project
To say the Wilton High boys soccer team faces a rebuilding season would be correct, but also somewhat of an understatement.
Having graduated 23 seniors, out of a roster of 26, the Warriors are almost starting from scratch.
“It is what it is and we’ll just have to deal with it,” said head coach Jim Lewicki, who has never faced such a huge turnover in his long career in Wilton. “It’s pretty much a whole new team.”
The Warriors begin the season on Friday (4) at home against Westhill.
Wilton enjoyed a banner campaign in 2015, finishing 12-5-3 and reaching the FCIAC and Class LL quarterfinals. A lot of that was due to having such a big group of talented seniors.
Only three players return from last year’s team — senior captains Nick Davatzes, Owen Evershed and Ben Watson, who will provide the experience and leadership for the young squad. All three can start either at midfield or in the back, depending on the team’s need.
The Warriors did get a boost from a pair of players returning to the team after taking a year off.
Aaron Breene, a senior who was a key contributor two years ago but ran cross country last fall, is back and will start at striker, where his speed and endurance will be a big asset.
Fellow senior Ryan McNamara, a midfielder, returns after playing academy soccer last fall in lieu of the high school season. Lewicki said McNamara’s addition to the lineup “changes the dynamics of the game.”
The other starters are all moving up from the JV ranks. Juniors John Brown and Kevin Connolly are slated to start in the midfield, while senior Griffin Klinga, junior Josh Bender and sophomore Andrew Bucciero will play on the defensive half. Senior Charles Hess, who started on JV last year, will be the starting goalie and is “solid,” said the coach.
The defense will eventually also have senior Kevin Ugarte, who has been injured, along with juniors Ben Lucas and John Zizzadoro and sophomore Anthony Catino. Tyler Smith, a junior, is the backup goalie
Also looking for playing time on the forward line will be seniors Matt Rubsam, Rhys Evershed, Jack Ginsburg, Andrew Nisco and Alvaro Alonso, while juniors Tim Foley and Cameron Berg will see time at both midfield and forward.
While the team features 13 seniors on a roster of 23, few have had much time on the varsity level and are still adjusting to the speed of the game.
“We’re young and inexperienced. You’ve got some new guys up from JV that are still in JV mode, where the speed of their game has to pick up,” said Lewicki, who also worried about the young Warriors being physically under-matched.
”We were pretty much the biggest team in the FCIAC last year. Now we're probably the smallest team,” he said. “We’ll have to beat teams with fitness and stuff like that.”
The team’s inexperience will make it difficult for Lewicki to go 18 or 20 players deep, as is the custom in Wilton boys soccer. But with time, as players find their roles and get accustomed to the pace of varsity play, he hopes the pieces will come together.
For now, it’s a work in progress.
“We are very much under the radar,” he said. “It’s going to be a learning curve for a lot of the kids.”
For updated schedule, go here .
Friday, Sept. 9 — vs. Westhill, 4
Monday, Sept. 12 — at Norwalk, 7:30
Friday, Sept. 16 — at Central, 4:30
Tuesday, Sept. 20 — vs. Greenwich, 6
Thursday, Sept. 22 — at St. Joseph, 4:30
Monday, Sept. 26 — vs. Warde, 6
Wednesday, Sept. 28 — vs. Ludlowe, 4
Friday, Sept. 30 — at Ridgefield, 4:30
Wednesday, Oct. 5 — vs. Trinity, 4
Friday, Oct. 7 — at Danbury, 6
Monday, Oct. 10 — vs. Darien, 4
Thursday, Oct. 13 — at Trumbull, 6:30
Saturday, Oct. 15 — vs. Stamford, 11 a.m.
Tuesday, Oct. 18 — at McMahon, 7
Thursday, Oct. 20 — vs. Staples, 6 (Senior Night)
Monday, Oct. 24 — at New Canaan, 4:30