WATERBURY >> After overcoming a tough first half the Torrington Red Raiders cruised right into the records books with a 7-0 win over Kennedy, their 15th of the season and the most in school history, one more than the 1990 Red Raiders squad.
“It’s a nice thing to get,” said Red Raiders head coach Mike Fritch Jr. “It’s a tribute to the kids for the year that they had.”
The 1990 Red Raiders team went 14-1-1 and were coach by Fritch Jr.’s father Mike, who is an assistant coach for this year’s team.
“They were a strong team,” said Fritch Sr. about the 1990 team. “This is a pretty strong team too.”
The younger Fritch is a little more bias when deciding which team was better.
“I would say this team is better,” he said, “Because I coach this team.”
Eleven of the Red Raiders 15 wins this season have been shutouts by goaltender Zack Paniati which also broke a school record that was held by Shawn Smedick who had 10 during the 1992 season.
“It’s great, a lot of games have been like this,” said Paniati, who only had to make one save in the shutout win. “It’s a testament to my defenses work, not mine.”
Senior defender John McCarthy is happy to be a part of the team that broke two school records, but being part of a defensive unit, with seniors Nick Mancini and Seth Gesmondi, that gets overlooked sometimes, they like to give Paniati a little tough love.
“It means a lot, Zack gets all the accolades and we joke about how sometimes he doesn’t deserve it,” laughed McCarthy. “We have the strongest defense with Nick and Seth; we’ve been playing together forever.”
Fritch Jr. played with Smedick and believes that he would be happy that Paniati broke the record.
“He’d be happy, he would be happy that someone broke it,” said Fritch Jr.
The Red Raiders started off slow against Kennedy (4-12), having a bunch of chances in the front of the net but they weren’t able to finish.
“Kennedy came out harder than we expected them to,” said junior Amar Suljic who scored two goals in the win. “We needed to play how we have been playing.”
With 11 minutes left in the first half, senior Shane Bierfeldt was able to get past a couple of Kennedy defenders and score the first goal of the game for the Red Raiders and give them a 1-0 lead going into halftime.
In the second half the Red Raiders came out and scored six goals, two more for Bierfeldt for the hat-trick, two by Suljic and his first two goals of his high school varsity soccer career by senior Griffin Pelkey.
“It’s a good feeling,” said Pelkey, who is more known in the Torrington sports community for his swimming. “It’s a better feeling knowing that my team kept feeding me the ball and my coach who was giving me the chance to get in.”
With the regular season and the records broken and behind them, Torrington now turns its focus to the NVL tournament, which begins on Saturday, times yet to be determined and eventually the State tournament.
“We still have some business to tend to,” said Fritch Jr. “We turn the switch now to the NVL Tournament.”
The players echoed what their coach said.
“It means a lot (breaking the records) but we have two other things to do,” said Paniati.
McCarthy isn’t going to let the team look too far ahead
“We are going to take it one game at a time.”
Torrington 7 Kennedy 0
At Municipal Stadium
Torrington 1 6—7
Kennedy 0 0—0
Goals: T—Shane Bierfeldt 3; Griffin Pelkey 2; Amar Suljic 2.
Records: Torrington 15-1, Kennedy 4-12