A player’s impact is sometimes best understood through his or her absence.

To understand JT Siano’s contribution to this year’s Ridgefield High boys soccer team, it’s wise to contrast the games he’s missed with those he’s played. Minus Siano, the Tigers lost their first two games of the season; since his return — in the second half of the team’s fourth game — from an ankle injury, Ridgefield has been nearly unbeatable, going 10-1-1.

In his 12 games as a starter, Siano, a senior striker, has scored 18 of Ridgefield’s 31 goals. Six of those tallies came from hat tricks against McMahon and Darien, and six more from two-goal games against Fairfield Ludlowe, St. Joseph and Westhill.

“As a striker, I live to score goals and that has been my objective for all the teams that I have played on,” said Siano, who combines size and speed with technical skill. “The service from the team has been quite good and our movement of the ball throughout the field has been outstanding.”

“JT is a hard worker who holds himself and the team to high standards,” said Ridgefield head coach Phil Bergen, whose team finished the regular season with a 12-3-1 record and earned the top seed for the conference playoffs. “He has a strong desire to improve, so I never doubt he’s going to keep getting better.”

Siano contributed as a sophomore before opting to play with the Beachside academy squad last fall. His return this fall has been the perfect complement to a senior-stocked Ridgefield team that struggled to score in 2016 — the Tigers had just 18 goals in their 17 matches.

“We had good players all over the field last year, but we did have trouble finishing,” said Bergen. “That’s why it’s so important to have JT back. He creates a lot of chances for himself.”

“Academy offers the best competition in soccer that is available in America,” said Siano about his decision to play for Beachside as a junior. “I wanted to improve my game as well as compete at the highest level. Since this is my senior year in high school, I wanted to be a part of the Ridgefield High School team and play with my friends again.”

Siano’s mix of pace and physicality allows him to play with his back to the goal or out wide. “I like to do both in order to confuse the defense and have more opportunities for scoring,” he said.

Another advantage for Siano is the ability to finish with either foot. After using his right foot to score his first two goals against McMahon, Siano completed his hat trick by fooling a defender with a stop-and-go dribble and blasting a left-footed shot into the net.

“Soccer is such a fast-paced game — a player must adapt instantly to the situations that arise,” said Siano. “Quite often in soccer, coaches will talk about creativity, which is extremely important in finishing. When I am attacking, I look at the defender’s body language and determine my next move based upon that.”

Siano has been drawing interest from colleges, including several Division I programs — the level he wants to play. But his current focus is on making a postseason statement with RHS.

“The main goal for me is to be part of a winning team and bring home the state championship to Ridgefield,” said Siano. “Individual goals are meaningless unless the team is successful.”