Pool of talent ensures Knights' depth

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Ellington - posted Wed., Aug. 31, 2011
Freshmen Nick Topor (left) and Saif Kalboneh go after a bouncing ball in an intra-squad scrimmage at the Ellington Knights' second practice of the season on Aug. 30. Photos by Steve Smith.
Freshmen Nick Topor (left) and Saif Kalboneh go after a bouncing ball in an intra-squad scrimmage at the Ellington Knights' second practice of the season on Aug. 30. Photos by Steve Smith.

Last year was supposed to be a down year, in terms of experienced players, yet the Ellington High School boys’ soccer team still went to the semi-final game in the state class M tournament. This year, most of that squad is back (including nine seniors) and there’s a pretty big wave of young talent backing them up.

After just two practices (getting a late start because of tropical storm Irene), coach Roy Gurnon said the pool of underclassmen with talent will keep some of the veteran starters on their toes. With scrimmages scheduled as early as Sept. 3, decisions will be made Sept. 2, which is a close shave, but necessary due to the shortened practice season.

“From our [coaching] perspective, it’s great, because there’s going to be a lot of competition,” Gurnon said. “We have a lot of kids that can play. Honestly, if anyone thinks they have a spot, they might be thinking the wrong way, because of the talented underclassmen.”

Gurnon said the team’s success (past, present and future) is due largely to the youth programs in town, as well as the support from the community. “The youth soccer folks in town do a great job, so when we get them, they have skills,” Gurnon said.

Much of the credit goes to the players themselves, who often practice on their own - alone or in groups. Gurnon said that when practice was cancelled on Monday, he was calling players to tell them what the situation was, and learned that about 30 of them were playing at a local park. “That’s what they do in the summer, too,” he said. “They just go to the park and play. When the kids want to do it, as opposed to organized stuff, that’s so positive.”

Another key to a successful season, Gurnon said, is something coaches can’t teach, and will essentially either happen, or not. “The chemistry – to get them all believing in each other, and their strengths and weaknesses,” he said. “I wish I knew what the key was to that. I don’t really know, but I’d love to know. Sometimes you think you have it, but you don’t. I think part of it is the kids liking each other and caring about each other. But, it looks very good so far.”

Ellington will start the regular season with an away game at Canton on Sept. 13, and will host Bolton at the home opener on Sept. 16. For a complete schedule, visit www.casciac.org.


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