New coach off to strong start leading New Milford boys’ soccer
NEW MILFORD - New Milford High School’s boys’ soccer team has a new coach but he’s settled right in.
The Green Wave are off to a 4-0-2 start and allowed just 4 goals in six games this season. New Milford has won three straight and has shut out half of its opponents in the early going.
“I think we are in a good place,” said New Milford coach Greg LaCava. “We are coming together a little more every game. We lost a lot of key players from last season, when you lose guys right up the middle it leaves a big void but we have responded and I think we are doing fine.”
Last season New Milford went 14-2-0 and were tied with the best record in Class LL with Glastonbury. The Green Wave were seeded second by lot and while the Tomahawks went out and won the state title, New Milford was bounced 1-0 by No. 15 Wilton in the second round after receiving a bye.
As well as losing a core of seniors from last year’s team, New Milford also lost coach Antony Howard, who took the boys job at Danbury High. Howard was named the South-West Conference Coach of the Year in 2014 and 2015 and guided New Milford to four straight Class LL state tournament appearances in his four seasons at the helm. The Green Wave earned the second seed last fall and the fifth seed in 2014.
Howard’s moving on allowed LaCava to return to the sidelines for New Milford, just this time it was for the boys side rather than the girls that he successfully led until stepping down after the 2014 season. LaCava guided the New Milford girls soccer team to the 2014 SWC title.
“When Anthony stepped down things transpired and it worked out for me to coach again,” LaCava said. “Anthony approached me about it, and things that were going on with my career and family became organized, and I was still here, so when the opportunity came about, it didn’t take much time for me to say yes.”
So far the return to the sidelines has been a successful one. The coach is getting to know his players better, and in turn they are learning what to expect from him.
“They are getting to know me and me them and we have made a couple of adjustments in the style of play we have,” LaCava said.
It’s early, but New Milford has already opened up a lead in the SWC Colonail Division race as well. The Green Wave are 3-0-2 in division play with Pomperaug at 3-2 and Masuk 2-2-1. New Milford beat both Pmperaug (1-0) and Masuk (3-2) in games last week.
“The SWC is tough like it always is, it will be wide open but with what we have coming back we should compete,” LaCava said. “With what this group accomplished last year we should shoot to reach the SWC championship game and make the state tournament and go far.”
The varsity roster is predominantly seniors and juniors with a few impact sophomores pitching in and shoing promising potential. The main strength of the team so far has been in the back on defense.
“Our senior led defense has been pretty outstanding so far amount given up just two goals in our first four games,” LaCava said. “The leadership and composure we have in the back has really been working for us so far.”
LaCava credited centerback Patrick Murphy, senior captain Christopher Agor (center back), right back Thomas Schneider and left backs Patrick Anderson and Kyle Chaves with shoring up the defense and goalies Leo Riedl and Brandon Romero have been splitting games between them and playing well.
“If we improve and keep getting better we should be a team that competes,” LaCava said. “We have a lot of numbers and can try different things up front, see who the hot scorer is, work some different combinations. We have depth and they work hard.”