Boys soccer preview: New starters, smaller roster for Tigers

It wasn’t unusual for Ridgefield High boys soccer coach Phil Bergen to substitute three or more players at a time last season. That’s what happens when your varsity roster has 34 players, including 19 seniors.

Keeping track of the Tigers’ substitutions won’t require a panoramic view this fall.

“For the first time in a while we have a small varsity roster (19 players),” said Bergen. “There will be movement between the three (program levels), so we can call up players from either the JV or freshman teams.

“We had too many players on varsity last year and it wasn’t productive,” said Bergen. “Our practices looked more like a clinic because there were so many players out there.”

Gone via graduation are 10 of Ridgefield’s 11 starters from last season’s team, which finished with a 14-5-1 record. The most significant departure was that of striker JT Siano, who scored a team-high 21 goals and earned All-FCIAC, All-State, All-New England, and All-American honors.

The lone starter returning is junior goalie Ray Dearth, who is backed by seniors Robert Buthorn and Ryan Sheafe.

The defense includes senior left back Alex Holder, senior right back Ben Riek, and senior centerbacks Andrew Masciotti and Nicholas Gasparo. Fellow seniors Miles Tullo and Connor Broderick are also vying for playing time.

Leading the midfield are seniors Charles Poremba, Andrew Conte, Owen Cherner, Nick Yulo, and Ian Ferguson, along with junior Tim Vanni.

Senior Ruben Mendoza and junior Ben Ragland (a transfer student from Minnesota) are expected to start at forward in Ridgefield’s 4-4-2 formation. “Ben Ragland scored our goal during a 1-1 (preseason) tie against Newtown,” said Bergen. “Ruben Mendoza has a great left foot and could help us replace some of the goals that JT Siano scored last year.”

Seniors Tristan Brandt and Cole Blackwell will also get playing time up front for the Tigers.

“I think we might have more balanced scoring this season,” said Bergen. “We relied on JT (Siano) for most of the goals last year, so it would be good to have more people contribute to the scoring.”

Notes: Poremba and Conte are Ridgefield’s captains this fall.

Lost for the season due to injuries are senior midfielder Jack Shickell and sophomore midfielder Will Baker. “Those two would have helped a lot,” said Bergen. “We are going to miss them.”

In addition to Siano, Ridgefield’s graduation losses also included central defender Ben Sasse, an All-FCIAC first-team selection last year.

After winning the FCIAC regular-season title, Ridgefield lost to Danbury in the conference quarterfinals and to Norwalk in the Class LL state quarterfinals last fall.

The Tigers open the season on Saturday (Sept. 8) at home against Trinity Catholic. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.