TORRINGTON – For all the sympathy the best high school teams receive this year for not getting their shots in state tournaments, coronavirus might just hit struggling programs the hardest.
Wolcott’s girls soccer team won 2-1 at Torrington Wednesday evening, building its record to 2-0-2 in what for the Eagles is a down season so far after making it to last year’s Class M quarterfinals.
Meanwhile, though, the loss brought the Raiders to 0-4, despite scoring their first goal of the season.
Wolcott star Ella Vaughn, heading for Division I High Point University next fall, scored both goals for the Eagles, teaming up each time with fellow senior Samantha Riviezzo.
Torrington goalkeeper Abby McCarthy, set to play for the University of Hartford, helped keep the Raiders in the game with 12 saves, but the best news for Torrington’s future might be that underclassmen posted the Torrington goal 17 minutes into the game.
Sophomore Rachel Brewer-Karimi kicked the ball away from Eagle goalkeeper Ashlyn Desmond on a pass from junior Jade Robles for Torrington’s first lead of the season.
So maybe it’s a bright flash for the future, but any bright hopes for this season are already dimmed by the pandemic.
Torrington last went to a state tournament in 2013. Then the program was crushed by low numbers for the next several years.
In a slow numerical rise back to health, 29 players came out this season, despite – or maybe even because of the quarantine urging kids to seek a way to be safely outside with their friends.
“We were going along nicely. Then we got stopped for 10 days (when Torrington High School closed down until the season’s opening day because of a covid case),” Coach Mario Longobucco said. “When we got back on the field (a week ago Monday), we were playing teams that already had three games under their belts.”
Torrington’s four seniors, suffering through three losing seasons already, felt the covid penalty even more within the team.
Stars McCarthy and Payton Graham took the positive approach.
“We’re lucky we got a season,” Graham said.
“It gives us a greater appreciation for our time on the field and the extra time off gives me more chances to work on my techniques,” McCarthy said.
Nevertheless, all the seniors agree that the disciplines required from coronavirus wreak havoc with a team doing its best to grow.
“We have to distance ourselves so it’s harder to get to know your new teammates,” Madison McLaughlin said.
“Communication is essential in soccer so that gets in the way,” Nadia Rinaldi said.
“There’s less chance for bonding, so less chemistry on the field,” Makayla Diogostine said.
They’re not meant as excuses, just a factual list of some of this year’s added challenges for a program trying to get itself going.