Despite multiple losing seasons, Berlin boys soccer's senior class groomed young core for future step forward

Published on Friday, 8 November 2019 16:51


BERLIN - The high school careers of the Berlin boys soccer team’s seven seniors came to an end on Wednesday night, and the majority of them experienced the sport at its ultimate highs and lows.

From the school’s last conference title in 2017 to just five combined wins over the past two seasons, the Redcoats’ graduating class celebrated historic victories while enduring massive change and the frustrating seasons that followed. Through all of the rebuilding and adjustments, the one constant was the mindset of the seniors, who continued to show up through a pair of seasons littered with losses and made sure to lay the groundwork for the next group that they hope will return the program to where it was just three short years ago.

“They left us with a sense of pride,” head coach Sal Parafati said. “They were all leaders, all seven of them. They definitely will be missed because of their positivity. I just hope that positivity wears off on the underclassmen.”

The prevailing word following Wednesday’s loss on Senior Night was “positivity.” It can often be an elusive trait when a team loses 13 games and is shut out 11 times, but the mood around the Berlin sideline was never anything but optimistic, and Parafati attributes that to the seniors who were honored before the regular season finale at Sage Park.

“They’re an extremely positive group,” Parafati said. “They’re coachable and they never lacked effort.”

For those seven seniors, their positivity was rooted in the realization that their final season with the Redcoats was likely not going to result in the kind of success they enjoyed as sophomores. But if they couldn’t control the outcome on the field the way they would like to, they made sure they could control the mood on it.

“I realized from the start we wouldn’t be scoring many goals, but I just focused on if we were improving and working as hard as we could,” said senior Gabriel Negrao, a starter on the 2017 championship squad. “That’s what I got fulfillment from and what made this special for me. I knew I had 20 other guys trying their hardest with me.”

The remaining seniors joined with Negrao and made sure that if the losses piled up, the doubt wouldn’t. They quickly realized their final season would be less about their own farewell and more about preparing a young core to hopefully recapture what they experienced when they were young and green. The goal was always to win, but as the season turned into one of teaching, it became one of the most rewarding for a senior class that had already experienced a championship.

“The results definitely didn’t go the way we wanted to, but high school soccer is special, and it’s something I won’t ever have again,” Negrao said. “I had a great time with the boys. We all worked hard this season and we all made of it what we could. We put 100 percent into every game and practice. I think the last couple weeks have been preparing the next group for when they’re on their own.”

The Redcoats said goodbye to seven key contributors on Wednesday, but if the group they left behind can return the team to what it once was, the losses that those seniors endured would have been for a worthy cause.

“I feel like because we were positive and wanted to support our underclassmen, that was one of the most important aspects of us being a senior class,” senior Jeffrey Bengiovanni said. “It was a ‘down’ year, but it was the only thing we can do to help them get better.”

Ryan Chichester can be reached at (860) 801-5094 or

Posted in New Britain Herald, Berlin on Friday, 8 November 2019 16:51. Updated: Friday, 8 November 2019 16:53.