Notre Dame-Fairfield graduated 10 players off a team that went 9-3-4 in the regular season and reached the semifinals of the CIAC Class S semifinals.
Replacing that kind of turnover would be difficult at any school, but at one with just 232 boys enrolled, the challenges are a bit more difficult.
Notre Dame plays in the SWC, always facing schools with larger enrollments, including L and LL opponents. Notre Dame was also bumped to Class M this season in boys soccer after reaching the state semifinals.
Notre Dame’s opening day opponent, Trinity Catholic, faces even more challenges in the FCIAC.
While the SWC has Immaculate and Kolbe Cathedral in Class S and a few Class M schools, the FCIAC has only Trinity and St. Joseph below Class L.
With smaller enrollments come shorter benches, but both teams are up for the challenge.
“As a smaller team we need to focus on trusting each other,” Notre Dame senior captain Carlos Fernandes said. “We need to understand each other and work as a team. We all need to be doing our jobs out there, pass the ball more and not be selfish.”
Fitness is also of great importance for teams with fewer varsity-ready players coming off the bench.
“Togetherness is the key. You have to play as a team rather than depend on individuals,” Trinity coach Mike Grove said. “Especially for us, we don’t have an attacking superstar, so, we have to play as a team if we are going to have success. The guys that are able to start on the squad are the most fit players we have.”
Notre Dame beat Trinity 1-0 in the opener, but has since struggled dropping its next two by a combined score of 8-0.
Trinity lost a heartbreaker to St. Joe’s 3-2 but is 0-3 without a goal against other FCIAC opponents.
DEFENSE NEVER RESTS
With 12:04 left to play Friday night, Farmington converted a penalty kick against Glastonbury.
The goal was the first one allowed by Glastonbury since Oct. 23 of last season when it lost 4-1 to Farmington. The Tomahawks did not allow a goal in the state tournament or in their first two games this season.
The incredible run of shutouts may have ended, but the defense still has not allowed a goal in the flow of play in 10 games.
“Our defensive shape and communication are really good,” junior centerback Pat Sullivan said. “We work on that in practice every day. We take a lot of pride in our defense. Having a good keeper behind us every year, always helps.”
Glastonbury coach Mark Landers said it takes time every season for the defense to fully lock in with each other but this group is progressing nicely.
“They are communicating a little better back there,” Landers said. “We are still trying to sort things out a little bit. Overall, they have been pretty consistent in what they are doing. The generally read the game pretty well. They are letting the game come to them and reading what the other team wants to do.”