Tuesday was perfect fall soccer weather for my visit to Glastonbury. Today was classic New England - windy, rainy and cold - as I cruised down Route 190 to Somers High School. I was there to watch the defending Class S champion Spartans host the only undefeated team left in the NCCC, the Granby Bears. The last time I visited Somers HS was to coach an NCCC Senior Bowl game in the fall of 2008, before Tolland left that league for the CCC. It is a beautiful grass facility, befitting a team that has won at least a share of the Class S title 5 of the past 8 seasons.
The NCCC is often regarded as the best small school league in Connecticut. League members have won 19 state championships since 2000. In Class S, where most of the league’s members play, NCCC members have won at least a share of 10 of the 16 titles in that span.
Coming into today’s match, Granby led the league at 4-0-0 with Coventry, Somers, Windsor Locks and Suffield nipping at their heels with only a single loss. The race for the league title appears to be wide open.
The match started in a cold drizzle and the conditions deteriorated from there. I am pretty sure I was the only non-student, non-family member in attendance. I found myself wondering why I was sitting in the cold, blustery rain. I briefly thought about leaving, but my friend Granby coach Dave Emery had challenged me to stay through the end and I took it to heart. Boy, am I glad I did.
It was an entertaining, end-to-end affair with equal parts skill and athleticism. Both teams found the woodwork within the first 15 minutes. Alex Murzda, a senior from Somers was the most skilled player on the pitch - opening the scoring just after halftime with a 35 yard slalom run with the ball before slotting it past the Granby keeper. Austin Wickham from Granby is the best freshman I’ve seen this year. Both teams were energetic offensively and well organized in the back.
It was 0-0 at the half. Each team then posted a goal in a three minute span early in the 2nd half. With just over ten left, Somers lofted a ball into the area and Murzda challenged a Granby defender for the ball. It glanced off the head of the Bear and past a surprised GK for a 2-1 Somers win. Granby fought to the end, but couldn’t find the equalizer.
As I’ve grown to expect, the elite in the NCCC will be among the best in Class M and Class S come November.