Boys soccer is always one of the most closely contested sports in the FCIAC. Last year offered a perfect example: The top five teams finished within three points — one win — of each other, and Greenwich was just a point behind that pack.
Expect this season to play out according to that template. A number of teams were hit hard by graduation losses, so the maturation of first-year starters will impact the standings.
Right now Danbury is the team to beat, but there is a strong group capable of claiming the championship.
Danbury. The Hatters reached the FCIAC final last fall for the first time since sharing the title in 1998, suffering a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Trumbull in overtime. Danbury won the regular-season title with a 10-1-5 mark. It has a lot of returning talent, featuring what could be the state’s best defense, led by Tyler Warren, the reigning unofficial Player of the Year in the league. Warren is joined by Joe Mooney and Aidan Coleman, while Matt Silva is back in goal. The Hatters have a great chance at ending their 21-year championship drought.
Trumbull. The defending champion Eagles have to move on after the offseason death of popular coach Sebe Gangemi. Fortunately they have an excellent replacement in Sil Vitiello, who was one of the state’s top assistants. Also gone is Jason Weinstein, the dangerous scorer whose goal clinched the title last year. Emotions are still raw, but there is a lot of talent back, including midfielders Tiago Frazao and Howard Qian, and Carrigan Cullinan on defense.
Fairfield Warde. The Mustangs have one of the top scoring threats in Danny Villalba, who finished with 12 goals and five assists a year ago. Jake Berecz, who finished with three goals and three assists as a defender last season, will move up into an attacking position. The Mustangs were one of the most entertaining sides a year ago and have the pieces to make a title run.
Staples. The Wreckers only lost twice during the regular season and finished one point behind Danbury. They should have one of the better midfields, led by Patricio Perez Elorza and Sam Liles. Former academy player Evan Birns will provide the offensive spark. Staples is always a contender and this year is no different.
Greenwich. It is not often you make note of a team that lost 29 seniors from a 34-player roster. Especially when its best returning player, Francisco Liguori, who is able to dictate action, was lost for for the year with a shoulder injury that required surgery. But the Cardinals always have a pipeline of new players that make impacts, so they can never be discounted.
15 Players To Watch
Jake Berecz, Fairfield Warde
Evan Birns, Staples
Masai Castillero, Brien McMahon
Aidan Coleman, Danbury
Tiago Frazao, Trumbull
Will Gaviria, Norwalk
Kenly Lalanne, Stamford
Mario Morataya, Fairfield Warde
Davi Pedreiro, Greenwich
Patricio Perez Elorza, Staples
Howard Qian, Trumbull
Charlie Sears, Darien
Danny Villalba Fairfield Warde
Tyler Warren, Danbury
Michael Zizzadoro, Wilton
Danbury: G: Matt Silva; D: Joe Mooney, Aidan Coleman, Tyler Warren; M: Victor Oliviera, Crisis Cardenas, Andreas Aveiga; F Lucas Oliviera, Lucas Dantas.
Darien: G: Will Lehan, Tommy Branca; D: Will Harmon, Ethan Fox, Cristian Ochman, Bennett Dumas, Jacob Grimm, Colin Gallagher; M: Charlie Sears, Thomas Mclehose, Liam Flaherty, Robbie Roderick, Danny Lowe, Evan Hughes; F: Jack Holly, Andrew Smith, Pedro Coelho, Elias Vetter.
Fairfield Ludlowe: G: Nicholas Tenreiro, Michael Loya; D: Patrick Kilbride, Patrick Connor, Sawyer Nessel, Malik Thomas, Markus Priede, Aven Williams, Timothe Marilhet; M: Sebastin Builes, George Cortes, Calum Crawford, Matt Rullo, Zach Connor; F: Zaid Atta, James Radman, Harrison Kelchner, Ignacio Amoros Trave.
Fairfield Warde: Danny Villalba, Jake Berecz, Cole Jennings, Jocab Deck, Mario Morataya, Sean Rodriguez.
Greenwich: G: Padraig Colligan; D: Josh Frumin, Max Pisacreta, John Jee, Ryan Smith, Will Flynn; M: Davi Pedreiro, Tadeo Mendive, Joao Pedro Lima, Andrew Lowitt, Lucas Toro; F: Jeanel Boone, Farid Ghaliya, Kevin Giano, Matias Lew.
Brien McMahon: G: Billy Begos; D: Lucas Balderrama, Rodrigo Cabrera, German Morfin, Roger Veliz; M: Leonardo Guzman, Chris Ocampo, Mateo Cano; F: Alex Vargas, Masai Castillero.
Norwalk: G: Joe D’Allacco; D: Josh Schroder, Brandon Rodriguez, Chris Patafio, Seb Gudiel, Alex Vazquez; M: Jhonny Santamaria, Will Gaviria, Mateo Davalos, Kevin Carabali, Julian Mandujano, Oskar Otalvaro, Yanni Stefanidis; F: Pablo Jimenez, Seif Samy, Greg Foster.
St. Joseph: G: Cameron Reichenbach; D: Carlos Barrera, Nichols Valverde, Rob Lewicki, Mateo Cruz; M: Jack Attanasio, Matt Guzzi, Carson Rodriguez; F: Manny Santos, Christian Cinque.
Stamford: G: David Collazo; D: Zachary Tusa; M: Christian Carmona, Richardson Michel, Matthew Gonda; F: Kenly Lalanne.
Staples: D: Surya Balaji, Callum Wisher, Brendan Lynch, Benny Feuer, Jack Douglas; M: Sam Liles, Patricio Perez Elorza, Josh DeDomenico, George Smith; F: Evan Birns, Lars Djuve, Alan Fiore, Haydn Siroka. Subs: Colin Corneck, Emerson Anvari, Carter Bassler.
Trumbull: G: Nick Grassi, Dante Palmieri; D: Carrigan Cullinan, Gabriel Morgia, Matheus Martins, Brendan Phelan, Tucker David; M: Tiago Frazao, Howard Qian, Nicola Milovanov, Michael Rizzo, Ethan David; F: Justin Horvath, Matthew Bagley, Roberto Echenique.
(Teams missing did not reply to repeated requests for information)