MADISON — It had been almost seven months since Scott Testori played in a live soccer game.
There was no premier soccer season this spring, just some practices and some friendlies during the summer.
Not until very late August did the non-skillwork begin after weeks of conditioning in cohorts of the same 10 players to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. Almost a month later, the full team was finally able to practice together.
Then came that first game on Oct. 2.
Testori picked up where he left off from the 2019 season. He scored the game’s only two goals as Hand defeated rival Guilford.
“To even get a game is amazing; a game against our rivals, even better; at home, even better and to end it off with a 2-0 victory, it’s the best you can get,” Testori said after the game.
The second goal was a thing of beauty: a 35-yard line drive into the net. The fans at the Surf Club — actually the fans outside the stadium, because no spectators were allowed into the Surf Club due to COVID-19 — cheered with delight.
“That’s an all-world goal. I mean, c’mon, 35-40 yards on a frozen rope?” Guilford coach Curtis Gullette said.
Testori really hadn’t skipped a beat. The last time he was in a Hand uniform, Testori scored a pair of goals and added an assist to help Hand beat Wilton in double overtime to claim its fourth consecutive Class L state championship.
Testori finished last season with 24 goals and 16 assists to earn All-American and All-New England honors. He had 58 coming into this season.
There won’t be a fifth straight title for Hand, or a chance for Testori to conclude his career in another state championship final. He, among soccer players across the state, were just hoping for a chance to have a season.
The 2020 regular season is a few weeks in. What it took to get there wasn’t easy for anyone involved. So for captains like Testori, there was extra responsibility coming with the job this year.
“We (along with fellow captain Chris Porte) had to stay on top of that, make sure everyone was following the COVID guidelines,” Testori said. “Hearing it (the guidelines or rules) from a player is just as good, maybe even better, than hearing it from a coach.”
Hand coach Greg Cumpstone calls Testori “the whole package” and has watched the senior lead in different ways.
“Usually you have a captain who is a vocal captain, and maybe a leader by example,” Cumpstone said. “Both captains (along with Chris Porte) do it both ways. They are vocal leaders and lead by example. The levels which they demand from themselves at training is unbelievable. That filters down to everyone else. That says to (the others), ‘If these guys are working this hard even during a simple passing drill, I better make sure I do that too.’”
Testori has scored 10 goals over the first four games. He is picking up where he left off, like the reigning Connecticut Soccer Coaches Association Boys Soccer Player of the Year is supposed to.
“There’s not really pressure to make me want to go out there and (win it again). But there would be nothing better than to have two of those plaques at home. If I work hard, maybe I can win that plaque again,” Testori said.
Said Hand coach Greg Cumpstone: “Scott has gotten physically stronger. He did a lot of work in the gym over the winter. He is faster, quicker, more powerful and his finishing looks better than last year. He is a smooth finisher.”
Testori said he has received plenty of interest from Division III schools. There is Division I interest also. Testori and Cumpstone declined to say which programs are interested. Testori hopes to make a decision some time after the season is completed.
“The NESCAC play is equivalent to what you will find in a lot of mid-majors,” Cumpstone said. “I see Scott at a mid-major or upper level Division 1 or a high, high Division 3 NESCAC school.”
There won’t be a Class L state championship to win this season, but there is something to play for: a region championship in its current division. Guilford and Branford are among the teams standing in the way of one final championship for Testori and the Tigers.
“If we win whatever they call the state tournament this year, we will be happy. That’s a five-peat in our minds. But right now, we are not too focused on that. We are focused on working and getting better as a team together and to win every game,” Testori said.