CANTON, Sept. 9 – The North Central Connecticut Conference can be unforgiving in boys soccer. Easy victories are rare. Games are tight and feisty. Avon is the largest team in the league and a perennial contender for the NCCC championship.
Suffield and Granby are always skilled squads that make you pay for your mistakes. Ellington went to the Class M semifinals a year ago. Somers won the Class S championship. And this year, the league admitted a new school Hartford-based magnet school Sport and Medical Science Academy.
But the Canton High boys soccer team has always played soccer with vigor and pride. The Warriors (8-8-2, 7-7-2 NCCC) graduated 14 seniors from last year’s squad. But with six starters returning, some good competition at goalie and an impressive transfer student, Canton is looking for a solid campaign in 2011.
Coach Bill Phelps will begin his 23rd season with senior midfielder Tyler Detorie (7 goals), senior goalie Mike Grisevich (3 shutouts), senior striker/goalie Lou Hiza, senior midfielder/forward Jeff Lochner (7 goals), senior defender David Solomon and junior midfielder Alex Boon van Ostade (3 goals) returning.
Phelps has several talented goalies that can push Grisevich, including Hiza, who missed his junior season with a knee injury. Detorie, who was named All-NCCC last fall and Lochner each shared the team lead for goals.
With a balanced approach, Canton scored 42 goals last fall – the most since netting 58 in 2003 when they won their most recent state championship.
The Warriors will be boosted with the addition of junior midfielder/striker James Spatcher, who earned Western New England All-Star honors playing for Kingswood Oxford last fall. Spatcher’s brother David helped Canton win a Class S title in 2003 and played three years at Massachusetts.
“The problem we have is depth,” Phelps said. “We can play with anybody. These kids are good.” The challenge lies in the substitutes, who are solid players but there is a drop in skill level, which can be a problem in a deep and talented NCCC.
With some luck, Canton could contend for a NCCC championship but the realistic goal is to get enough points to qualify for the Class S tournament and take your chances with schools your own size.
The league title will be determined in results against the league’s 14 other teams. Canton will face Somers and Coventry twice with the second game counting as the league contest.