By BRIAN JENNINGS
The boy’s soccer team is still in search of a Class LL championship game appearance. Coach Dave Yanosy is entering his 10th year at the helm of the Blue Knights (15th year with the program) and has had success early on in his tenure, making an appearance in the state tournament during the first five years. However, the team has not been able to make it back to the state tournament since 2010.
The team finished the 2014 regular season with a 5-10-1 record (4-9-1 in division), ending up in fifth in the CCC West. The Knights just missed qualifying for the state tournament by a game, where their regular season finale was lost to New Britain, 1-0, in a torrential downpour.
“Each game is important,” Yanosy stressed. “We lost a game early on in the season to NW Catholic, and it ended up being a game we wished we had back later on in the season. Also, try not to leave it up to the last game to qualify for the tourney. Soccer is a funny game and crazy things can happen. So, try not to wait until the last game to qualify.”
The Knights are losing about 11 players to graduation, and according to Yanosy, they are all key losses.
“Each player filled a valuable role on the team,” said the coach. “Ian Powell was one of the co-captains and made the all-conference team. He also played in the Senior Bowl. Tom Del Buono was also a co-captain.”
Other players that have graduated include Curtis Topper, Brian Topper, Casey Doyle, Francesco Ricigliano, Jake Moise, Jake Wallach, Kevin Drexler, Nicholas Valerio, and Timothy Carrier.
Yanosy said that this class of soccer players stand out and are different from the other teams he has coached in the past.
“This group is very technically sound,” said Yanosy. “They have a great understanding of the game, but are less physical than most of the groups I have coached. We will have to try to pull it out of them because some games, especially set pieces, corners, and long throw-ins, come down to aggressiveness and physicality.”
As far as the game plan, style, and culture of the program, the Knights’ goal is to play an attacking brand of possession soccer.
Ryan Burrill was chosen by his teammates to the lead the Knights for the 2015 season, as the only team captain.
“He is a returning all-conference player, who posses great leadership capabilities,” said Yanosy. “He puts the team before himself.”
Other key returning players include senior Bryan Doyle, Erik Schnei-der, and Parker Mul-holland.
“Doyle will play a major role in the midfield,” said Yanosy. “He has the ability to be an impact player. He’s a tough player with great technical skills. Schneider scored seven goals last year for us and is a dynamic player with great finishing abilities. Mulholland and Burrill will help to anchor, what should be a solid, defensive unit. Mulholland is a technical player with good decision-making abilities.”
Yanosy said that other decisions are still being made to fill positions on the field, and will have a better understanding as the season regular season approaches.
When it comes to the ability to shoot and pass, touch, dribble, trap, or head the ball, Yanosy said that technical skills will the team’s biggest strength. Tactical skills like understanding different game situations will also be a strength.
On the other hand, the team’s abilty to balance physicality and aggressiveness on set pieces will prove to be a key to the season’s success as Southington looks to qualify for the postseason.
“We have been lifting weights in the off-season to help address this issue,” said Yanosy. “We need to have a good start, scoring goals. The mindset has to be about believing in our abilities no matter who we’re playing.”
After the major realignment of the Central Connecticut Conference was announced in October of last year, the boys soccer divisions were reconstructed to the North, Central, and South Regions, with a Blue and White Division within each region.
Southington is in the Blue Division of the Central Region, along with Conard, Hall, Glastonbury, and Simsbury, while the White Division has Avon, Bulkeley, Farmington, Northwest Catholic, Weaver, and Windsor.
“It’s tough to move around every three to four years, but there is no place we would rather be,” said Yanosy. “We welcome the opportunity to line up against the state’s best teams on a daily basis. Avon is another perennial powerhouse, who comes over from the NCCC.”
The Blue Division of the North Region has East Catholic, East Hartford, Hartford Public, South Windsor, and Manchester, while the White Division has Bloomfield, E.O. Smith, Fermi, RHAM, Rockville, and Tolland. The Blue Division of the South Region has Bristol Central, Bristol Eastern, New Britain, Newington, and Wethersfield, while the White Division has Berlin, Maloney, Middletown, Plainville, Platt, and Rocky Hill.
Yanosy said that his expectations are high heading into the 2015 season and he’s looking to get his squad back to where he remembers being when he first stepped into his role.
“Qualification for the state tournament is the goal,” said Yanosy. “The earlier we qualify for the tournament, the better it will be.”
To comment on this story or to contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.