The Old Saybrook boys soccer team pulled one of the surprises in the state tournament last year, coming from behind to stun top-seeded and fellow Shoreline Conference school Valley Regional in the Class S state quarterfinals.
The Rams lost in the next round to eventual state champion Bloomfield, but that set the stage for what has been a very good season thus far. Old Saybrook currently stands at 8-0-1.
“The kids have built off of that (last year’s run to the semifinals). They came in motivated and worked hard in the off-season,” Old Saybrook coach Samuel Barnes said. “They have their hearts set on doing the best that they can.”
Senior forward Danny Murphy leads the way for the Rams with 15 goals and seven assists. Barnes said he has received some interest from Division I schools. Forward Jeff Nagy (10 goals, nine assists) and midfielder Nate Corrado (seven assists) complement Murphy well in the Rams’ offense.
The one hiccup for Old Saybrook so far this season was a 1-1 overtime tie with winless Westbrook on Tuesday.
“We learned a very valuable lesson that the better team doesn’t always win,” said Barnes, now in his 19th season. “That game was partly my fault because I overlooked them.’
Barnes said he has had undefeated regular seasons before and reached the Class S final in 1998 at Old Saybrook. He also played there, part of back-to-back state championships in 1982-83, the last ones at the school.
The Shoreline Conference has been a different story. Barnes said the last league title came in the 1950s. Remember, Guilford and Hand used to be a part of the conference before moving to the Southern Connecticut Conference.
“We’ve had good teams in the past. We haven’t always been able to finish,” Barnes said.
It remains to be seen if that will change in 2013.