The signs are there that Shepaug Valley High School's young boys' soccer side could be a force with which to be reckoned in the season's stretch run.

The Spartans rode the shutout goalkeeping of Eric Hungerford and goals by Spencer Fappiano and Joey Guliano to a 2-0 victory Tuesday over visiting Terryville.

The belated triumph came on the heels of a spirited performance in 4-2 defeat to Lewis Mills and a 0-0 deadlock with Wolcott Tech. The 'W' lifted the Region 12 booters to 1-7-1 as they head into the second half of the '09 campaign.

"Our number one goal right now is to continue to improve," said first-year coach Jim Stinson, who served for many years as the Spartans junior varsity mentor, " every practice and then every game."

"We know that we are a young team, both in terms of age and experience," he said, "but we also know that there is no excuse to not improve. I think that we are in a very good mind set."

Coach Stinson feels his squad has "played some very good games, even though the scores might not indicate it, including the Mills game, and the Northwest game (a 2-0 defeat)."

"I feel that this team is taking the right steps and is close to turning that corner," he noted. "We have played very well as a team, something that I am proud of."

The Shepaug bench boss praised goalkeeper Eric Hungerford for his efforts this fall in his first season in the nets.

Coach Stinson concluded that he's starting to get productive play from his younger players.

"The underclassman have started to step up," said the coach, "most notably Tristan Fappiano, who is one of our most consistent offensive players."

-- Norm Cummings