WOODBURY – Nonnewaug High School’s boys and girls soccer teams open their respective 2017 seasons on Friday. And the biggest question for both teams is: can the Chiefs repeat as the Berkshire League champions?
Nonnewaug’s girls soccer team finished 14-1-1 last season to capture the Berkshire League crown. The Chiefs won their opening round game in last year’s CIAC Class M Tournament, but fell to Ellington on penalty kicks in the second round.
The Chiefs have several key players returning, so the team should be able to content for another title in 2017. But it won’t be easy, says 10th-year head coach Nick Shiekh.
“There are many solid teams in the league that can show up and play well on any given day,” Shiekh said. “The competition in the league gets stronger each year.”
The Chiefs return a pair of first-team All-Berkshire League performers: senior tri-captain Mary Bibbey and junior Azria Malloy, and second-team performer senior tri-captain Brooke Malkin.
Other retuning players include seniors Jennifer Charette, Libby Bennett, Emma Yocis (tri-captain), Sophie Fenn, and Emma Boushie; juniors Rachel Pieger, Sarah Sandor, and Nicole Mercer; and sophomores Cassandra Barbino, Carmen Lo, and Danielle Forte.
“The goal is to be near the top of the league again this year and try and win the Berkshire League title,” Shiekh said. “Many young players will need to step up for us to match past year’s successes.”
The Nonnewaug boy’s soccer team finished the regular season 16-0, but lost on penalty kicks to Tolland in the CIAC Class M Tournament.
Despite losing a decorated senior class, the team returns seven players who started at times last season.
“We should be strong up the middle of the field hope to blend some experience and newcomers into a group that hopes to contend for the top spot in the league,” said 12th-year head coach Toby Denman.
Nonnewaug’s senior tri-captains are defenseman Chris Rosato and midfielder Daniel Swanson, who were All-Berkshire League performers last season, and midfielder Jake Willis.
Other returning seniors include goalkeeper Connor Hanggi, midfielder-defenseman Alex Gonzales, defenseman Dean Jones, forward Luke Shea, midfielder Mickey Shea, defenseman-midfielder Jacob Firlings, midfielder Jack Salerno, midfielder George Lyman, and forward Frank Cosenza.
Junior all-league performing midfielder Andrew Ray returns, as does junior midfielder Will Coleman and sophomore forward Josh Cheatham.
Denman doesn’t think there will be as clear a path to the title this season as there was in 2016.
“Lewis Mills looks tough as always and Northwestern should feature a handful of the league’s top players,” Denman said. “Look for some teams who were young last year like Litchfield and Thomaston to take a big step forward.”
[yikes-mailchimp form=”1″ title=”1″ description=”1″]