Ellis Tech has bright future with young soccer team

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Killingly - posted Mon., Sep. 19, 2011
Jose Rojas will head up the Golden Eagle offense. Photos by D. Coffey.
Jose Rojas will head up the Golden Eagle offense. Photos by D. Coffey.

Coach Matt Papuga and his Ellis Tech boys’ soccer players were in good spirits after they shut out Cheney Tech 6-0 in their season opener on Sept. 14. Still, Papuga wanted the team to work on dribbling in practice the next day. One player after another ran through shortly-spaced poles, keeping the ball close. Papuga wanted his players to work on their touches. “Sometimes they have a tendency to let the ball get away from them,” he said.

Ellis Tech fields a young team this year, with six freshmen, six seniors and the rest sophomores and juniors. “We're a fairly young team, but our future looks really good,” said Papuga.

Senior Jose Rojas leads the Golden Eagle offense. “He's our main scorer and threat,” Papuga said, adding that he thought his lead scorer had an excellent chance at making the CSC First Team this year. The Eagles have other scorers, something they lacked last year.

“Last year we were one-dimensional,” Papuga admitted. “This year we have a lot of options. We have five or six players who can score.”

They also have good team chemistry. “Everyone seems to get along,” said Papuga. In years past, the teams haven't been as cohesive. There were strong individual players. This year, there is more of a team feeling. “They all pull for each other,” Papuga said. “That will help us along in the season.”

Senior Gunner Eubanks is playing in his first year as goalie. At the beginning of the season, the Eagles didn't have a goalie. “I'm glad he came out, because that was one spot we were worried about filling,” Papuga said. And although the coach was hoping to find a goalie he would have time to work with, Eubanks is proving to be good in goal, with a shut-out in his first game.

Tropical storm Irene put the Ellis Tech team behind, as missed a whole week of practice. They will play three games a week for two weeks from Sept. 19 through Sept. 30 to make up for lost time.

Papuga credits assistant coach Drew Mizak for being a tremendous help with shaping the players and the team. “I can't go without saying how much he brings to the team. He's very good. He knows the game. The kids like him, too,” Papuga said.

The Golden Eagles face Tourtellotte Memorial, Grasso Tech and Norwich Tech during the week of Sept. 19-23.

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