When Brandon Rodriguez sent a pass through to Joseph Chunir early in the first half and Chunir found the back of the net for a goal, the two had no idea they had just made a small piece of history.
What was likely the first goal of the SWC boys soccer season was scored by a team playing its first game in its temporary conference, Abbott Tech.
This fall, with so many things changing in the world of high schools sports, some might have missed the scattering of technical high schools to conferences throughout the state.
The 17 teams which make up the Connecticut Technical Conference (CTC) were forced to temporarily disband this fall after the realignment of conferences and formation of regional pods due to COVID-19.
The CIAC recommended teams travel only within a 30-mile radius to control the potential spread of the coronavirus. CTC teams reside in every county in the state, often traveling long distances for games.
For example: Wright Tech of Stamford’s closest CTC opponents are Bullard-Havens 28 miles away in Bridgeport and Abbott Tech 33 miles away in Danbury. A trip from Wright Tech to Ellis Tech in Danielson is 122 miles, the journey to Grasso Tech in New London is 93 miles and to Wolcott Tech in Torrington is 72 miles.
This fall, CTC teams have joined the FCIAC, ECC, NVL, Berkshire League, SCC and SWC in an attempt to keep them closer to home and limit long bus rides.
The Capital Region Athletic League (CRAL) absorbed the most CTC teams with five programs joining the CRAL.
That has teams accustom to only playing other tech schools during the regular season now matching up with schools that are often larger and have more resources.
Abbott Tech was moved to the SWC North where it will be matched up with larger schools, including Class LL teams Newtown and New Milford and the defending SWC boys soccer champion, Pomperaug.
It was against New Milford that Abbott Tech scored the first goal of the SWC boys soccer season.
While the Wolverines hung with the Green Wave for most of the game, over the final 20 minutes fatigue set in after missing two weeks of training due to the city of Danbury shutting down high school sports in August.
“We lost 12 seniors last season and this is going to be a learning process this year. I would say seven of our guys were starting in a varsity game for the first time and now we are playing against SWC teams,” Abbott Tech boys soccer coach Adrian Solis said. “I am loving the fact that we can play with these guys. We were competitive with them. I don’t think the score line (5-1) really shows you how the game flowed. We are going to have to get used to playing these type of teams. We are ready for the challenge.”
Abbott Tech is no slouch on the soccer field, going 15-4 last year and reaching the Class M quarterfinals by beating public schools Seymour and Tolland before losing to eventual champions Stonington.
Bullard-Havens also joined the SWC, being placed in the South Region where it will have to face league powerhouses Joel Barlow and Weston among others.
While he feels his players can be competitive on the field, Bullard Havens boys soccer coach Biagio Montanaro said the reason the CTC was formed 17 years ago was to give athletes at technical schools an equal opportunity to play.
“When the league for technical schools was formed it was done because our kids have different situations than many kids in other schools,” Montanaro said. “A lot of my kids work and in the tech league we can play games at different times so we don’t interfere with kids work. We don’t play at night and we don’t play on weekends. It’s a very different situation over here.”
As far as having to play some of the top teams in the SWC?
“My kids are from all different countries and they are always up for any game. My kids love to play soccer and will play anyone we are supposed to play,” Montanaro said. “This year is definitely different because we are playing powerhouse big schools with very good soccer programs and a lot more resources than we have. It’s tough.”
In the SCC, Whitney Tech of Hamden is now in the SCC-A along with the likes of Cheshire and Xavier, while Platt Tech of Milford is in the SCC-C with Shelton, Amity and West Haven.
Wright Tech now plays in the FCIAC West, where it will face Greenwich, New Canaan and Darien along with the two public schools in Stamford.
Wright Tech opened its volleyball season taking on Greenwich Thursday and will face the Cardinals again Monday.
“It’s a fairly new team, it’s only our fourth season and I’m a brand-new coach. Playing in the FCIAC, it’s going to be competitive, a little more than what we’re used to, but I think it’s going lead to a great improvement for our team,” Wright Tech volleyball coach Joe Sirico said. “ I always tell them when you play a better team, you are going to play better too. It’s a natural reaction, when you play good opponents, that you play better. It’s nice to play different schools, too. We need a little more practice and have time to jell a little bit more.”
The athletes just want to play, no matter the opponents.
“It’s all new for us, but I know my boys can do it,” Abbott Tech senior boys soccer player A.J. Villa said. “We are up for the challenge. We will show up at practice every day and work our butts off and keep pushing forward. We know it won’t be easy, but we are happy just to be out playing anyone.”
New Homes for Technical Schools
Berkshire League: Wolcott Tech
CRAL: Cheney Tech, Goodwin Tech, Prince Tech, Vinal Tech, Wilcox Tech
ECC: Norwich Tech, Grasso Tech, Ellis Tech, Windham Tech
FCIAC: Wright Tech
NVL: O’Brien Tech, Kaynor Tech
SCC: Platt Tech, Whitney Tech
SWC: Abbott Tech, Bullard-Havens