NEW BRITAIN - The start of the fall season was a long time coming for everyone involved and an even longer time for the Bristol Central boys soccer team.
The Rams were slated to start their season at the same time as everyone else Oct. 1, but as they were preparing to open their season against Avon, they found out a player on Farmington, the team they scrimmaged the weekend prior, tested positive for the coronavirus, forcing the team to quarantine for the ensuing 10 days.
“We were pretty upset about it,” junior Hayden Caudill said. “We waited so long to play and it was just bad.”
Following this two-week delay to begin its already abridged 2020 season, Central brought two weeks of pent up energy into its first game Tuesday afternoon at a rain-soaked Veterans Stadium and came out with a 3-2 victory over New Britain.
“We came out here expecting a win so it’s good to get a win on the record,” said Caudill, who netted two of the Rams’ three goals. “I think communication could be a little better, maybe working on some finishing because we had a few sitters inside the box that we could’ve scored.”
For Rams head coach Nate Jandreau, this year was already slated to have its share of challenges as he needs to replace the majority of his team’s offensive production from last year. Andrew Oren, Diego Naranjo, David Bowes and Adam Jones, who all graduated, scored 32 of the Rams’ 49 goals from last season as well as provided a strong core of senior leadership and experience. Decreased practice time in the preseason and then losing 10 days to quarantining compounded the issue.
“It’s strange because you have a plan of who you’re going to play going in and how long they’re going to play and stuff like that, but you don’t really know until you get out into the middle of the game,” Jandreau said. “We only had one scrimmage to work with and then we didn’t even have scrimmages against ourselves for the last 10 days so this is really a feeling out process. The guys who are playing in different positions and how long they’re playing, that could easily change from game to game. We’ll figure it out, but I’m just glad we got to play [Tuesday].”
While players like Mark Palma, Caudill and Carson Rivoira will be looked at to direct the offense most of the time, Jandreau expects the scoring distribution to be more balanced than last previous seasons.
Two of Central’s goals came in the first minute of each half with opener coming off the foot of Charlie Pittman and then Caudill scored his second of the game 20 seconds into the second half off of a corner kick from Palma that was already at the goal line and going in when Caudill headed it. While there are proven benefits to having a go-to scorer, the Rams will be looking to build a scoring attack around the unpredictability of having a variety of scoring options.
“Without seeing them in games, if you told me we scored three goals, I wouldn’t be able to guess the goal scorers,” Jandreau said. “We’ll see from game to game who’s going to be that guy. It’s going to be a team effort. I like the ways that different guys played in the attacking positions, it gives me some options of who’s going to score goals this year.”
Central has rescheduled two of the four games it missed from quarantining and is looking to find time to play the other two as well. With everything required to make a season happen and how long they waited to get started, Central is simply excited to be playing and grow as a team.
“So far I think our chemistry is really good since we’ve been working through the offseason together,” Caudill said. “That helps us play well because it helps us know where our teammates are, connect passes and move up the field pretty well.”
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or email@example.com