WASHINGTON - Coming off a tough 2015 campaign, the Shepaug High School boys soccer team is looking to turn things around and return to the postseason.

While teams like Lewis Mills and Nonnewaug enter the 2016 season as favorites in the Berkshire League, Shepaug is a team working toward different goals. The Spartans will try and mix in some young talent into the lineup and turn around its fortunes in close games from what they were a year ago.

“I think the outlook and the feel is much more positive than a year ago,” Shepaug coach Jim Stinson said. “We have the talent to turn things around.”

According to Stinson, the Spartans lost six one-goal games last season, and that was a big reason they finished at 1-12-3. The new season started with a 4-0 loss at Nonnewaug Sept. 9, but optimism still reigns within the program.

“We are optimistic depsite Friday’s result,” Stinson said. “It was 1-0 at the half and we made a couple mistakes that we need to shore up, other wise it might have been a 2-0 game.”

This year’s Spartans team is relatively young, with six seniors on the team. With a roster of 44 players making up the program, there will be plenty of underclassmen called on this season and the experience they will gain will only make the team stronger in the future.

“The younger guys are playing well and we have a good group of juniors and sophomores that contributed on Friday,” Stinson said. “I expect that they will be contributors the rest of the way so the future looks bright in that regard.”

A trio of seniors will be called on to lead the team this season and Stinson is hoping for big things from center midfielder Eamaon Crossley, center back Austin Duthcher and senior forward

Fernando Pires.

“We need Fernando to shoot, the more he shoots the better our chances get,” Stinson said. “Against Nonnewaug we gave up too many shots and didn’t take enough shots.”

The goalie is junior Alan Stinson, son of the coach, which presents both a few challenges as well as a fun opportunity.

“It can be good and bad. Friday was Alan’s first varsity goalie experience and I thought he handled himself pretty well,” coach Stinson said. “I think he will get better the more minutes he sees.

“It is interesting at times because he is my son, and I am also treasuring every moment. Be able to share these times together is pretty cool.”

Coach Stinson is thrilled to have 44 players in the program saying it is great for a school Shepaug’s size and is happy to have a solid sophomore class to shape the future around. As for goals this season, he wants to lead the Spartans back to the Class S playoffs.

“It’s been a couple years and we talk about it as a goal, we want to go back to states,” Stinson said. “In preseason the work was good, the attitude and effort is where it needs to be and the team is looking forward to proving something to themselves, that they are capable.”