Shepaug boys soccer team reaches goal
The Shepaug boys soccer team made it back to the postseason and wrapped up a successful season with a tournament run.
The Spartans started the season with a pair of tough tests and lost to Lewis Mills, the defending Class M state champs, and perennial Berkshire League power Nonnewaug.
Shepaug notched its first win of the season over Thomaston, 5-3, and then seemed to play a tight game just about very time they took the field. Of the 16 games on their schedule, the Spartans played 12 games that were decided by two or fewer goals.
Down the stretch of the season Shepaug shut out Wamogo, 2-0, and recorded valuable ties against Gilbert and Terryville to lock up a berth in the Class S state tournament.
“Getting to states is always our goal,” Shepaug coach Jim Stinson said. “It had been a little while since we got there.”
Once they got there, the Spartans showed they had every intention of sticking around and they went out as the No. 25 seed and shocked No. 8 St. Bernard (11-5), 1-0 in the first round of the Class S Tournament.
“This group of young men battled all season and grew up as well,” Stinson said. “I think our first state game was one of the best we played all season. We controlled the possession and limited their scoring opportunities. It was really nice to get that win.”
Shepaug’s run ended in the second round against Notre Dame Fairfield, which eventually advanced all the way to the semifinals.
“Overall I think we continued to make good progress to where we want to be as a program,” Stinson said. “This senior class is one of the largest I have ever had as a coach and I am proud of what they accomplished.”
Senior Gavin Block made second team All BL and a number of other seniors made major contributions. Goalie Ethan Hibbard was chief among them.
“Ethan was our keeper and played rock solid all year long,” Stinson said. “He brought a sense of confidence to our defense.”
Shepaug’s back line of Zac Tibbatts, Jack Pesce, Jack Schneider and Nate Douskey was solid. In the midfield the Spartans had a lot of versatility with Gavin Block and Jack Kennedy leading the way and Diego Gutierrez, Tucker Redstone, Tiernan Crossley and Chance Dutcher providing support.
A number of seniors will be gone next season, but there will be some talented students returning and reason for optimism.
“Yes I graduate 14 players — 10 starters — but the future looks bright,” Stinson said. “We had a lot of quality minutes from some juniors and Drew Doerwald and Cazden Brenner will be focal points for us next year.”