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Nick Booth takes over as head coach of the Newtown High School boys’ soccer team, succeeding longtime fixture Brian Neumeyer. Booth inherits a lineup that comprises participants with no choice but to work hard in order to get playing time.
“I’m in a rare situation here. I play 11 v 11 in practice and I’m not sure who my starters are, and that’s a good problem to have,” Booth said during a preseason practice on the grass fields behind the high school on August 31. “It’s really a balanced squad.”
Booth intends to tap this depth and use it to give players a rest throughout the campaign, in an effort to keep them fresh and, he hopes, injury-free.
“I’ve got to be really smart with this squad,” Booth said. “Are we going to be healthy at the end of the season to make a run? That’s going to be the key.”
Newtown lost a handful of graduates among its starters/regulars from last year’s lineup, and has 13 seniors on the roster this fall. Despite being a veteran team, and thus potentially looked upon as being among the favorites in the conference, the Hawks are not overlooking the competition.
“Having a senior group, an upperclassman group doesn’t give us an advantage over anyone else,” Booth cautions.
Newtown went 8-3-4 in the regular season, then fell to Notre Dame-Fairfield in the conference tourney quarterfinals, and saw their season end in a second-round Class LL state tourney defeat to Greenwich last fall.
Brookfield defeated New Milford in last year’s conference title game, and two other generally tough lineups are the ones belonging to Bethel and Joel Barlow of Redding, schools that met in the previous two championship matches.
“I think it’s a pretty balanced league,” Booth said.
Captains are forward/midfielder Brendan O’Hara, forward Jack Oltran, and forward Thomas Skrelja. Goalkeepers are Cam Trivers and Mike Greenspan.
Booth likes the leadership and work ethic from not only his captains, not only his seniors for that matter, but everybody on the team.
“Everybody likes to get their hands dirty whether they’re a senior or a sophomore,” Booth said
The season gets started under the lights at Blue & Gold Stadium when Kolbe Cathedral of Bridgeport visits for a 7 pm contest this Friday, September 8.
Read the full article in the September 8 print edition of The Bee.