Setting the bar a little higher is something the Weston High boys varsity soccer team has in mind as it prepares to start the 2013 season.
For the past few years the Trojans have occasionally finished among the top eight teams in the South-West Conference. This season they hope to take the next step — make the top four.
“I definitely feel I’ve got the players to do that,” said head coach Kevin Fitzsimmons, now in his fifth season with the team. “The quality is getting better every year. That’s a big factor.”
Although practice started only a few days ago the Trojans seem to be headed in the right direction, based in part on their performance in last Sunday’s alumni game. For the second straight year they prevailed in the annual contest, this time by a 2-1 score.
“They’ve done a great job in the off-season,” said Fitzsimmons. “I can see it already.”
About 39 players have turned out for the program, which will field varsity and JV teams. After making cuts, Fitzsimmons will get an even better glimpse of what to expect when in pre-season scrimmages against teams such as Norwalk, Fairfield Warde and Rye, N.Y.
Weston has a few experienced players back from last season’s team which finished at 5-7-5 overall. Once again it qualified for the state Class M tournament, finishing in the first round.
It also graduated a few since then, including former captains Ryan Major, Jared Weisman, Oliver Parker and Andrew Parks. Major was in goal and Weisman was on defense. Parker and Parks played in the midfield and at striker, respectively.
Weston also graduated defender Dan Prorokovic and striker Josh Karpen, both All-Patriot Division selections. Gone from the midfield is Rein Diaz.
Junior Marca’l Beaudry broke his leg during the summer and is out for the season. Classmate Simeon Okoro transferred to another school.
The Trojans will have a small senior class that includes captains Bryan Lonergan, an outside forward, and midfielder Sam Rueben. Also back is classmate Ian Finn, who also played in the midfield last season.
Weston will count on a number of juniors to step up, many of whom were previously coached by Fitzsimmons on the Weston soccer club’s youth teams. These include captain Frankie Lugossy, who will be on defense, striker Josh Valentine, and wingback Will Steinharter.
Starting in goal is junior Dylan Weiss. Classmate Eric Nalbandian will be on defense. Also back is Micah Zirn.
A couple of sophomores will also see varsity time. Jordan Ellis will be one defense and Max Story is a midfielder.
From the freshman class Weston has Murray Riach, a left wing, and backup goalie Zach Gonzales.
“I’m excited about the versatility of the players,” said Fitzsimmons. “It gives me more options of which formations I can play.”
Weston starts the season on Sept. 11 at home against Pomperaug at 7 p.m.