Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Sports

Valley Boys’ Soccer Aims for Upper Echelon of Shoreline

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Senior captain Tucker Burr scored a goal and provided an assist in Valley’s win over H-K on Sept. 25. 

File photo by Wesley Bunnell/The Courier

Senior captain Tucker Burr scored a goal and provided an assist in Valley’s win over H-K on Sept. 25. (File photo by Wesley Bunnell/The Courier)

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Senior vice captain Jake Burdick and the Warriors moved to 4-1 on the season after notching two recent victories. Valley has a 2-1 record within the Shoreline Conference. 

File photo by Wesley Bunnell/The Courier

Senior vice captain Jake Burdick and the Warriors moved to 4-1 on the season after notching two recent victories. Valley has a 2-1 record within the Shoreline Conference. (File photo by Wesley Bunnell/The Courier)

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Sophomore Jake McKenna and the Valley Regional boys’ soccer team picked up a pair of wins over Morgan and Haddam-Killingworth last week. File photo by Wesley Bunnell/The Courier

Sophomore Jake McKenna and the Valley Regional boys’ soccer team picked up a pair of wins over Morgan and Haddam-Killingworth last week. (File photo by Wesley Bunnell/The Courier)

The Valley Regional boys’ soccer squad are looking to make some big strides this season. After going 7-3 in a campaign that was shortened on both ends by COVID-19, the Head Coach Mick Fearon’s squad looks in a prime position to pick up where they left off this year, albeit with some diminished bench depth.

The Warriors played a pair of games against Shoreline Conference opponents last week and came away with a pair of wins on the slate. Valley improved its record to 4-1 along with a 2-1 conference mark on the young season. Coach Fearon believes that Valley can hang with the top talent of the Shoreline.

“I think that ourselves, Morgan, Saybrook, H-K, and Portland can all beat each other. I know that after not getting to play in Shorelines last year, the team is really excited to be strong again this year,” said Fearon. “We aren’t as deep as we’d like, but we’re working on it with other players this year. The kids are really trying to get a home game in Shorelines and as many home games as we can in states. Right now we’re 4-1, and 2-1 in the Shoreline. It’s a good start but it’s going to be a long season.”

Valley has some savvy veterans leading the squad this year in senior captain Tucker Burr and senior vice captain Jake Burdick. Both are dedicated soccer players who know how to excel on the pitch, and Coach Fearon hopes that rubs off on the rest of the squad.

“Both of them play soccer year round, and a lot of the other boys look to them as leaders. It’s typical that high school kids still try to understand their roles as a captain and not just be a good soccer player,” said Fearon. “They’re learning how to get the kids to do things without the coaches telling them what to do. They’re trying to be good leaders on and off the field.”

On Sept. 20, the Warriors claimed a narrow 1-0 road victory over Morgan. Valley managed to get on the board early in the game and never let go of the rope the rest of the way. Jake McKenna scored the goal off a throw-in from junior Michael Kollmer 5:50 into the game. Coach Fearon thought that the team made some nice adjustments after their loss to Morgan earlier in the season.

“Michael Kollmer through it in, and Jake McKenna was at the far post. It was a great to get the goal that quickly. It wasn’t a looping throw, which was good,” said Fearon. “Our last game, Morgan’s keeper was coming out and winning those and collecting them. Kollmer put out a line drive and it made their goalie have to stay home, the ball came loose, and Jake was able to put it into the corner of the net.”

The Warriors got a great effort out of senior goalie Ian Silva. Morgan had some chances to go ahead late in the game, but Silva stymied the Huskies making seven saves in net.

“The game settled down after our goal. Morgan outshot us 12-8 and they created a couple of really good chances, but they couldn’t get the ball in. We relied on Ian to make some good saves. Morgan wasn’t able to dominate the game, but they had better chances,” said Fearon. “The game was really end to end. There weren’t a lot of clear chances, but it was a robust type game. It was a good win because that was the league game, which counts for the Shoreline standings. It’s good to win those.”

On Sept. 25, the Warriors hosted Haddam-Killingworth and scored a big 5-1 victory over the Cougars. The game was much closer than the final score indicated as the match was knotted 1-1 at the end of the first half. Burr scored Valley’s first goal off of an assist from Burdick just three minutes into the game. The Cougars tied the game shortly afterward.

“We came out really strong in the first 10 minutes. We scored three minutes when Jake Burdick got the ball to Tucker Burr, who put it in,” said Fearon. “H-K has two really fast forwards, and we told our boys to beware and not to get into a foot race. H-K broke free, was in on the goalkeeper, and slipped the ball right past him. One of their forwards got in behind us. That really was the only negative in the first half. We fell asleep for a split-second.”

After the first half, Valley’s offense really broke it open. Six minutes into the second half Kollmer scored in the top corner off an assist from McKenna to make it 2-1. Four minutes after Kollmer’s goal, Burdick was able to put the ball into the net on a free kick that got past the goalie to make it 3-1. Then 17 minutes into the second half, Jake Burdick scored a goal off an assist from Burr to make it 4-1, and three minutes later, H-K scored an own goal off a deflection on a Valley corner kick to make it 5-1.

Coach Fearon believed that the Warriors came out of the break with renewed vigor on the offensive attack and more care in the backfield.

“At halftime, we told the boys that we wanted to put more pressure on H-K’s defenders,” Fearon said. “In games, you have to take advantage of your early chances. We played pretty strong in the second half. The defenders played the quicker forwards a lot better than they did in the first half.”

When the game was out of hand, Valley was able to get a good look some of their younger players. Fearon believed that was a great opportunity for the Warriors, who are looking to build on their overall depth.

“In the last 20 minutes, we brought in Kenny Batt for goal. It was good for him to get in,” Fearon said. “He ended up making five saves in the last 20 minutes. This was his first experience for Kenny as a goalie. We got a lot of our bench players some time by the end of the game.”

Other players that are proving a big factor this season for Valley are seniors Simon Partyka, Andrew Salbinski, Jorge Lanza Duron, juniors Ben Costanzo, Sam Hutchinson, Reed Beighau, Matt Silva, sophomores Tyler Ruel, Deryck Llivichuzhca, Lucas Silva, and freshmen Caleb Winkley, Jack McPherson, Drew Delouchry, and Cam Costanzo.

Coach Fearon knows they have some talent throughout the roster, but he will be looking for some more players to contribute to help keep everyone fresh for a postseason run. Several freshmen are already starting to show that they can hang with the varsity squad, and that bodes well

“We’re only five games in just hoping everyone stays healthy and that we can get enough wins to get into the tournaments. We may limit some minutes for players so they don’t get totally worn out. There are a couple of teams in the Shoreline that are probably deeper than us. It’s nice to beat them, but if you play them three times and you’re not fresh for that third time, it can come back to hurt you,” Fearon said. “We’ve got a varsity squad of 20. Past halfway we’ll try to get the JVs their chance at varsity. It’s a huge jump. You have to keep reminding them that they are good enough to be out there, be out there and demand the ball.



Chris Negrini is the Assistant Sports Editor for Zip06. Email Chris at c.negrini@shorepublishing.com.

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