Shelton is one of three boys soccer teams still unbeaten in the Southern Connecticut Conference.
At 9-0-3, the Gaels have done it with a balanced offense and a tough defense that has allowed just four goals. Shelton has posted eight shutouts.
“This is one of the best defenses I have coached here,” said sixth-year head coach Joe D’Auria. He singled out a pair of center backs, seniors Austin Kothary and Kevin Kuna, as the anchors of that Gaels’ defense.
Senior forwards Austin Forlenzo and Pepe Lobello have been a big part of the offense, but so has sophomore forward Isaijah Robles.
“Isaijah is very versatile. He can play outside-mid (field), center-mid and up top,” D’Auria said.
D’Auria pointed to two other important factors as to why Shelton has been so successful thus far.
“The kids still want to keep practicing when our practices are over as opposed to other years when practice was over, everyone went their own way,” D’Auria said. “We also have more depth than we have had in any other year (he has been the coach).”
An example of the latter was Friday night against Fairfield Prep. Forlenzo sat out the game for receiving a red card in he previous game against Sheehan, according to D’Auria, but the Gaels had enough depth to withstand it against an improved Prep team that had beaten both Notre Dame-West Haven and West Haven convincingly last week and dominated the first half against Shelton.
“Prep is the best team we have faced,” D’ Auria said. “Without Forlenzo, that took a lot of strategy we use away from us. With that being said, in the second half, we made a lot of adjustments.”
Shelton’s biggest game to date will be Monday. Lyman Hall hosts Shelton at 3:45 p.m. which will likely determine the SCC Housatonic Division champion. Lyman Hall is another unbeaten SCC team (as is Hand).
The two teams tied 1-1 last time around.
“In the first game, we had tons of opportunities and we didn’t take advantage of them,” D’Auria said. “They did, scoring with 40 seconds left. It’s a winner-take-all game so there is some pressure on both sides.”
Regardless of the outcome, Shelton is a virtual lock to qualify for the SCC tournament. The Gaels have only made one appearance in the tournament semifinals – in 2004 – since the tournament’s inception in 1998.
“I think we are prepared with the depth and the kids are ready. Our goals are to win the Housatonic, the SCC (tournament) and to advance as far as we can in states (Class LL),” D’Auria said.