Wolverine boys' soccer squad eyes long-term goals

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Griswold - posted Mon., Sep. 30, 2013
GHS freshman Devin Mitchel (19) scuffles for the ball against Tourtellotte during the Wolverines' inaugural game at their new soccer field. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.
GHS freshman Devin Mitchel (19) scuffles for the ball against Tourtellotte during the Wolverines' inaugural game at their new soccer field. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.

The home field may be new, but most of the faces are familiar on this year’s Wolverine varsity boys’ soccer squad. “This is pretty much my starting team last year,” said head coach Vin Laraia. Apart from two of last year’s graduating seniors, Anthony Boyington and Scott Goyette, “everybody’s back.”

Laraia’s squad christened its new soccer field Sept. 24 against Tourtellotte with a 3-1 victory. “They won their first game on the new field. That really meant a lot to the boys,” he said.

The Wolverines are heavy on juniors this year – 11 of the 25-man roster are 11th-graders. “Since we don’t have a JV program, I’m keeping a big roster,” said Laraia. All his captains are juniors: Brock Kraemer and Sean Svab, who “pretty much anchor my defense,” along with center midfielders Chris Ladd and Kevin Dufour. The four are fairly equal in skill, said Laraia.

Among the team’s newcomers are forward Hesler Luna, a junior transfer student who has already been racking up goals, and starting goalie Luke Wenzloff, a senior. Junior Jordan Gauthier is also new to the goalie position this season.

Laraia cited as standouts sophomores Josh Wisniewski, whose play has considerably improved since the start of the season, and Skye Shogren, who started as a freshman last year and scored five goals in the season’s first four games. “He’s really grown,” said Laraia, who said he has high expectations for Shogren and Luna. “There should be some exciting play up front this season.”

The team is getting help this year from new assistant coach Dave Johnson, a former Wolverine standout who still holds the school’s scoring record. “The kids hold a lot of respect for him,” said Laraia. “He does such a nice job with the kids. He’s really helping them out.” The coaching staff is rounded out by assistant coach David Dufour.

At press time, the team’s division record was 3-1, with a 4-2 overall record. “Playing up to the medium and large schools is our biggest challenge,” said Laraia. “In our division, everybody’s going to be tough this year. Every game is going to be a battle decided by who plays best that day and who wants it the most.”

Laraia, a 24-year veteran soccer coach marking his ninth year at GHS, said the team’s overall goal is to win the small division and participate in the Eastern Connecticut Conference tournament.  “We want to really challenge this year,” he said. But considering that his team is young, he’s got an eye firmly fixed on next year’s state title. “I think they have it in them,” he said. “With a little more experience under their belt, they could go all the way. I think they could be that good.”


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