Boys soccer preview: Tigers look for bounce back after disappointing 2018 season

Ben Ragland, right, is one of the few returning starters for the RHS boys soccer team.

Ben Ragland, right, is one of the few returning starters for the RHS boys soccer team.

Contributed photo / Jennifer Vanni

Fortunately for the Ridgefield High boys soccer team, 2018 was a rare season to forget.

The Tigers sputtered from the start, finishing with a 4-11-1 record and failing to qualify for either the FCIAC or state tournament.

“It wasn’t the type of year you want to repeat,” said longtime Ridgefield head coach Phil Bergen.

Nearly all of the starters and most of the reserves graduated, leaving Bergen unsure what to expect in 2019.

“The spirit and unity are much better than last season,” he said. “I’m hoping that carries over to our play on the field.”

Ridgefield’s three returning starters are senior goalie Ray Dearth, senior midfielder Tim Vanni, and senior striker Ben Ragland, who played on defense last year.

“Tim Vanni is a hard-worker who has some good skills and the nerves of a competitor,” Bergen said. “Ben Ragland is also skilled and has good speed; we will need him to score goals. Ray Dearth is an athletic goalie who can make some outstanding saves.”

Another key player could be junior defender Will Baker, who missed last year with an injury.

“If he can stay healthy it will be a big help for us,” said Bergen. “Will is a quality player, and he is an aggressive player.”

Junior Ludwin Godoy, who was also sidelined by injury a year ago, has been impressive during the preseason and could partner with Baker to give the Tigers a strong central defense.

Fellow juniors Chad Eskenazi, Diego Pepe and Santiago Briones Lopez are the front-runners to start at fullback, with classmates Michael Juliano, Liam Dinnan and Steven Brodsky also vying for playing time.

In midfield, senior Riley Gousse and junior Tim Llewellyn are likely to start alongside Vanni. Four sophomores — Nico Pelaez, Fisher Mills, William Harford, and Jack Dowding — should also contribute.

Up front, seniors David Brodsky, Holden Quane and Ryan O’Sullivan are among the options to play behind Ragland.

Classmate Philip Bouchev is one of the back-up goalies to Dearth.

“I think it’s important for us to get off to a good start,” Bergen said. “We have a lot of young players, and that would give them some confidence.”