When you attend a Danbury boys soccer game it is often the voice of goalkeeper Matt Silva providing the soundtrack.
Silva, a captain, three-year starter, All-FCIAC and a GameTimeCT top 25 player to watch, can be heard throughout the game calling for balls, yelling at his defense and midfielders to “step up,” coordinating his defense and firing up the offense.
“He’s very vocal back there and he organizes the defense so well. Of course, he has great hands and everything else, but his organization is very good,” Danbury coach Antony Howard said. “He’s always been a little bit like that. He’s always been a little bit mouthy but goalkeepers have to be. He has rubbed some people the wrong way but as a goalkeeper he has a license to do that. Everyone does not, but if a goalkeeper needs to dig you out a little bit, he has the right. If he has to do something it means 10 players in front of him have not done their jobs.”
Silva’s job this season requires him be even more vocal than in years past as the Hatters are starting four players on the back line after graduating all four defensive starters from a season ago.
“The past few games it’s feeling a lot more comfortable now. It was a big change and after the first Staples game, it was something to get used to. It’s all a learning process right now,” Silva said. “We all have our jobs to do and I tell those guys just go do your job, be responsible and if you mess up, just work back to get the ball.”
The City of Danbury shut down all sports for two weeks in late August because of a spike in COVID cases. That shutdown, combined with just one preseason scrimmage due to state guidelines, left the new group learning on the fly in the Hatters’ first three games.
Danbury has gone 2-0-1 and Silva feels he is already clicking with the defense.
“Normally we would work that stuff out in preseason. It is tough because normally we come together during preseason. It’s unfortunate we couldn’t get any of that in,” Silva said. “But I have known these guys for the majority of my soccer life so in a lot of ways it’s not too hard for us to communicate and work together.”
The Hatters beat Staples 2-1, tied the Wreckers 1-1 and defeated Norwalk 1-0 so far in the 2020 campaign.
The defense is learning while playing, but is coming along well.
“The experience and having a good goalkeeper like Matt is invaluable,” Howard said. “The back four are doing well as a young inexperienced players. Two of them are midfielders and this is their first time playing as outside backs. Matt is talking them through the games and so far, it has been OK.
“It’s really about the communication. I tell defenders and goalkeepers, ‘Try to make your life as easy as possible.’ You do that by communicating and organizing. If goalkeepers have to make a bunch of good saves then something has gone wrong.”
The good news is, when things do go wrong and Silva has to make those good saves, he is up to the task.
In his three seasons, Silva has played in the FCIAC Championship game in 2018 and was a part of teams that went 10-1-5 in the 2018 regular season and 10-3-3 in 2019.
In addition to only four regular-season losses in just more than three years, the Hatters only conceded 10 goals in 20 games last season with the junior Silva playing alongside an all-senior defense anchored by All-State back Tyler Warren.
That gives Silva as much experience as any keeper in the state.
“I feel pretty comfortable. Obviously, I have my off days like everybody else because those happen to all of us,” Silva said. “I have seen a lot of things happen out here the last three years. I have had a lot of bad things happen to me and I have had a lot of good things happen to me. I feel very comfortable being in the back.”
Danbury is still not in school full-time, distance learning until the end of October.
Not knowing what the future will bring has Silva, like so many, simply happy to be on the field at all.
“I am ecstatic, I would have been so upset if we didn’t get a season. I love this time of year. Fall soccer under the lights, nice cool air, it’s amazing and I love it,” Silva said. “There were so many times we thought we weren’t going to be able to play.
“We weren’t sure if we were going to have school at all. We are going back now, but leading up to the season when they shut us down for those two weeks, we didn’t think we would have a season. It’s great that we have the season, it is definitely something to be happy about.”