TRUMBULL — With a run of three titles in the last four years, Trumbull has been the most decorated boys soccer team in the FCIAC since Staples won three in a row a decade ago.
The Eagles will not get a chance for a total build on its success. Due to the coronavirus pandemic all teams will play an abbreviated and regionalized schedule. They will play the first of their 10 games on Oct. 2 on the road against St. Joseph, the start of three straight home-and-home series.
Trumbull will enter this unusual season with its most inexperienced team in years. Sixteen seniors have graduated. It will build around its one returning starter, Carrigan Cullinan, who was an All-FCIAC selection.
“I think the hardest part is getting chemistry with the new guys,” Cullinan said. “There are a lot of young guys coming up in the program but I think once we’re altogether as one team we’ll be good.”
Today, after several weeks of conditioning work in cohorts of 10, teams were allowed to start practicing together.
“Clearly it has been unique,” Trumbull coach Sil Vitiello said. “You don’t usually get three weeks with a pool of players. You can look at it from the other standpoint also, that we are getting long looks at the skills that some of these players possess and it gives us a head start on some level when we get to play 11 on 11 in practice. We can see what they can each do and potentially bring to the program.”
Despite the personnel losses, which included Tiago Frazao and Justin Horvath, Vitiello said the longer ease-in to the preseason should not impede his player evaluation.
“I think you get a pretty good idea of what you have here,” he said. “We had a pretty good idea from the lower levels last year. “Once we start 11 on 11 we get to see these guys under pressure and how they change and will react in game conditions. We don’t get to do that because we have the two days instead of four sessions. We are seeing them play under these conditions for three weeks and show what they can do.”
Cullinan said while the names will not be familiar to many at the start of the season, he was confident the results can be replicated.
“It’s a whole new game but the guys behind us, the seniors with me, we’re on the same page so they will be perfectly fine and the young guys coming up will gain experience, Cullinan said. “As a leader I will try and guide them but as a player there’s not that much pressure. I know all the guys around me are on the same page and we’re all for Trumbull soccer.”
Trumbull lost just two games each of the last two regular seasons. The Eagles have done a good job accounting for graduation losses in the past, but this will be a major overhaul.
“We do have some holes to fill,” Vitiello said. “Some of the guys worked behind them last year and practiced against them the entire season. So I have a good idea where most of my players lie. It’s just identifying where those needs are, which we pretty much already have given who we’ve lost. We hope the guys behind them get the chance to perform and if not we have other guys behind them who will get the chance.”
Trumbull is part of one of the most diverse pods. It opens with consecutive games each against the Cadets, Fairfield Prep, a non-league team added to the region, and Fairfield Warde. That is followed by single games against Fairfield Ludlowe, Bridgeport Central and two former FCAIC schools, Harding and Bassick.
It is a challenging schedule; Warde was the FCIAC regular season champion a year ago.
“It’s going to be competitive,” Vitiello said. “It will be interesting to play against Fairfield Prep. They’ve always been a potential state tournament opponent. We’ve somehow avoided them all these years. It’s a highly competitive pod that we’re in. You split the FCIAC into two or three regions, it is always going to be competitive in there.”