NEWINGTON - The unpredictability of the coronavirus pandemic and, thus, the unpredictability of the start of the 2020 fall sports season left every athlete to their own devices for much of the summer when it came to preparing for the season they weren’t sure was coming.
With minimal practice time and one scrimmage in the preseason, many teams took the field for their first official game of the year far from the playing shape they’re accustomed to at the start of a season. The Newington boys soccer team, however, played like it was in mid-season form in its match against Maloney on Tuesday, winning 4-0 and scoring all four of its goals in the first half and withstanding strong adjustments from the Spartans after halftime.
Head coach Jeff Brunetti said he hasn’t seen any conditioning problems from his players.
“Our players worked really hard over the summer,” Brunetti said. “We were probably ready to go on regular time because we came into the season fit, we came into the season prepared. We weren’t able to play many scrimmages so that was a little bit different, we didn’t have our game legs under us. The groups were tough to manage in the beginning, but they’re attitude was great, they followed the protocols and they’re keeping each other safe. They managed it well and we’re adjusting and adapting quick. Everybody is happy to be playing real games now.”
Having already built up this endurance should prove advantageous for Newington because the team will likely face teams that are behind on conditioning for much of the season. This could also supplement the one setback Newington is facing from the abridged preseason, which was not getting enough in-game experience. Being less fatigued at the end of the games allows for better decision making and execution.
“I would have liked to see a little more gameplay when play started because we weren’t allowed to do any small-sided games or do any scrimmages, we weren’t allowed to have contact for three weeks,” Brunetti said. “I think that slowed them down more than anything else because we were just unprepared for gameplay. Gameplay in the beginning was a little sloppy, but now it’s starting to come around and it was nothing due to fitness.”
Brunetti is really happy with his roster, which is mostly comprised sophomores and juniors, and is looking forward to using this season to learn more about where his players thrive most on the field. With players as dedicated as the ones he has, including 2019 all-CCC North selection Christian Amaral who finished Tuesday’s match with one goal and two assists and is only a junior, Brunetti envisions a promising future for this team.
“This team really excites me,” Brunetti said. “They have a great group of players with great attitudes, they’re work rate is phenomenal. Every time I watch them I’m just excited to watch them play. We have our moments where we have mental lapses because we’re a little young, but the future for this team can be very bright if they continue to work hard. I love this team, they’re fantastic.”
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org