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Monday, June 24 News

Shepaug soccer teams start off with early wins, losses

After just missing out on the state tournament last year, the Shepaug High School varsity boys soccer team is hoping the team’s familiarity with the sport and each other will breed success in 2018.

The girls team, on the other hand, is hoping to find the winning formula with players in both junior varsity and varsity levels.

The Spartans boys team came up a little short of making the Class S state tournament at 5-9-2 last season. With 12 seniors on the roster this year, the goal is to get over the hump and get back to the playoffs.

“We are a team that has played together for a few years now,” Shepaug coach Jim Stinson said. “They are willing to work hard. I like the chemistry of this team.”

It’s essentially going to be up to the seniors to dictate how the 2018 season goes. There is experience all over the field with seniors on the field on defense, in the midfield and up front.

The senior group includes Ethan Hibbard in goal with Jack Schneider, Chance Dutcher and Jack Pesce playing in the back with Tucker Redstone splitting time in the midfield and on defense.

Seniors Jack Kennedy, Gavin Block, Mike McCluskey and Tiernan Crossley will be contributors in the midfield for Stinson with Dom Perachi playing both midfield and forward. Seniors Blain Tinsley and Diego Gutierrez will man the striker position.

“I do like what I see, we have been steadily improving over the past few years and I like the way we are playing to start the season,” Stinson said.

Shepaug boys had a tough opening slate with games at defending Berkshire League and Class M state champion Lewis Mills and Nonnewaug. The Spartans (1-2) dropped both of those contests but rebounded to defeat Thomaston, 5-3, on Monday for their first win of the season.

Shepaug is back in action on Friday when it hosts Northwestern. The Spartans then host Wamogo on Sept. 25 and travel to Terryville on Sept. 27.

“That first win was nice to get,” Stinson said. “We put a lot of pieces together yesterday. It is a tough start to the schedule, with those two and Litchfield and Northwest this week.”

Mills has to be the league favorite and Nonnewaug and Litchfield look to be among the competitors for the top spot as well. Stinson sees a balanced race and hopes the Spartans can pull out some close ones on their way to a tournament berth.

“I believe that the league will be competitive again this season,” Stinson said. “There were some close games last season and I look for that to be the case this year.”

Meanwhile, Shepaug’s returning starting keeper on the girls team is Skylar Soletsky.

Last season, Shepaug girls went 8-8 to earn the No. 17 seed in the Class S State Tournament. The Spartans lost a heartbreaker in the first round at No.16 Bolton in penalty kicks. This season the Spartans want to build on their success, both in the Berkshire League and in the state tournament.

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“The goals for the season include improving upon last year and winning state tournament games,” Coach Tara Flaherty said. “As for the Berkshire League, we look to be competitive with every team.”

The program is in good shape with the Spartans fielding teams at both the varsity and junior varsity levels, a must for future success.

“We have a full complement of players for both our junior varsity and varsity programs. This is an exciting position for us to be in,” Flaherty said. “The younger freshmen are bringing a lot of skill and heart to the team while the upper classmen are providing some strong leadership.”

The Spartans opened the season with a pair of tough matchups. First they traveled to Burlington to take on defending Berkshire League champion Lewis Mills and then hosted Nonnewaug. After opening the season 0-2, Shepaug got its first win of the season on Monday with a 3-0 blanking of Thomaston on the road.

Shepaug is back in action Friday at Northwestern. The Spartans then play at Wamogo on Sept. 25 and host Terryville on Sept. 27.