Valley Boys’ Soccer Growing Toward Goals to Return to Postseason
The Valley Regional boys’ soccer team may have taken a step back a campaign ago by missing both potential postseason draws, though the Warriors are back at it this fall and looking to sketch up a productive plan to get back in the playoff mix with young men becoming more seasoned to soccer exponentially on a daily basis.
The Warriors played to a 4-11-1 mark for the 2022 regular season last fall. Head Coach Mick Fearon and the Warriors have started off this season in September with a 1-5 start behind the efforts of a new-look club in terms of personnel, and he maintained that while it can be a competitive and deep talent pool in the Shoreline Conference, they are ready for the challenge and subsequent growth.
“After a 4-11-1 record in 2022 and missing both [Shoreline and state] tournaments, we will be in the process of rebuilding a team so that we can get back to competing with the best teams in the Shorelines and states moving forward,” said Fearon. “Over many years, the Shoreline has been one of the best smaller school conferences and will be that again this season.”
At the forefront of that movement back to playoff contention and representation for Valley are senior captains Liam Welch, a defender in his second year as a varsity player, and Deryck Llivichuzhca in the midfield. Both boys bring great experience and pride to the pitch, evidenced by the efforts they made in the offseason to better prepare themselves for their sendoff soirees with Valley soccer.
“Liam Welch is an extremely hard worker. Over the summer, he worked with a boy and girl on improving their skills,” Fearon said. “Deryck Llivichuzhca is an experienced senior midfielder in his third year as a varsity player.”
Junior players who Fearon noted “have been improving each year” are Kenny Batt at goalkeeper, forward Tucker Norton on offense, and Joe Welch, who is moving up to forward after being a center back on defense last year.
Additionally within the underclassmen core of players, sophomores Jonas Campion (defender), Patrick Finnegan (forward), and midfielder Gavin Abderhaven (midfielder) will be getting important playing time, said Fearon. Lastly, he remarked that “freshman Aaron Johnson has shown tremendous calmness on the ball when in possession.”
A big barometer is on the horizon when it comes to gauging the Warriors’ chances to keep playing into the cool, brisk days and nights of late October and early and mid November are their critical clashes both in the conference and away from the Shoreline. Still, regardless of the adversary each day on Valley’s slate, success will be determined by internal factors when it comes to mutual admiration amongst teammates.
“The remaining conference games, along with four non-conference games, will all be key in determining a possible return to postseason play,” said Fearon. “We have a lot of hard work ahead in understanding that to be a successful squad, it will need all players coming together with respect for each other.”
Fearon, who is now in his 22nd year with the Valley program, is aided on the sidelines this fall by Bryant Ziobron, a Valley veteran of 18 years; and assistant coach/JV coach Dan Denegre, who has been around the program for 13 seasons now.
The Valley Regional boys’ soccer team’s 2023 roster is comprised of seniors Llivichuzhca, Liam Welch, Lucas Welch, Chris Lopez, Thomas Dahl, Jonathan Alberto, Noah Knickerbocker, Noah Santangelo, and Owen Livingston; juniors Batt, Adam Schmelzer, Joseph Welch, Jack McPherson, Caleb Winkley, Nathan Crown, Norton, Birch Whitbeck, Edward Johnson, Cameron Costanzo, Tyler Welch, Nicolas Cartagena, and Otto Lavezzoli; sophomores Campion, Abderhalden, Tyler Benson, Finnegan, Owen Ingram, and Elijah Arsenault; and freshmen Patrick Doyon, William Ung, Chris Kostek, Johnson, Finn Recchia, Cole Amato, Mark Condon, and Alan Pinto.
2023 Valley Regional Boys’ Soccer Regular Season Results and Schedule
Sept. 8: Valley Regional 3, North Branford 0
Sept. 9: Hamden 2, Valley Regional 0
Sept. 12: East Hampton 8, Valley Regional 0
Sept. 14: Old Saybrook 5, Valley Regional 0
Sept. 19: Haddam-Killingworth 5, Valley Regional 0
Sept. 21: Portland 3, Valley Regional 0
Friday, Sept. 29: vs. Hale-Ray at 6:30 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 2: vs. Coginchaug at 6 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 5: at Old Lyme at 4 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 7: vs. Maloney at 11 a.m.
Tuesday, Oct. 10: at Westbrook at 3:45 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 14: vs. Amistad at 1 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 16: vs. Morgan at 6 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 19: at Cromwell at 6 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 21: vs. Hamden at 11 a.m.
Wednesday, Oct. 25: vs. Cromwell at 6 p.m.