The 2016 season may not have produced any state championships this fall, but the area’s boys soccer teams provided entertaining soccer.
For the first time, the R-J has selected the 11 best players from our seven area high schools. These are our selections, working front to back.
• F: Jon Beaucejour, Lyman Hall: The goal-scoring speedster was the lone senior captain of a young LH squad this fall.
“Jon’s a great player and I’m going to miss him,” Lyman Hall coach Arnie Jandreau said. “Jon was a leader as a captain for us all year. He stepped up for us.”
Beaucejour had a strong campaign with eight goals and six assists. He was named All-State Class L.
Statistically, Jandreau said, it easily could have been even more impressive. “Unfortunately, he hit the post 12 times. Those 12 posts go in, it’s a different story and we make the playoffs,” the coach said.
Jandreau said Beaucejour, a three-year starter, was a handful for opposing defenders.
“He’s a powerful player that’s in control of the ball,” Jandreau said. “Technically, he will win the ball and control it. He does a nice job passing the ball as well. Jon has a very powerful shot. If you give Jon the space to shoot it, he’s very dangerous. He has a very good eye for the goal.”
• F: Andrew Caplan, Sheehan: The four-year starter got better as the season went on this fall, highlighted by a four-goal effort against Lyman Hall in the regular-season finale. That performance clinched a berth into the state tournament, where the Titans earned a pair of upset wins.
“He’s been a large part of our success,” Sheehan coach Lou Rodriguez said. “He’s scored a lot of goals. He’s just a solid player all-around. Technically, he’s very good, very athletic and he adapted to our system immediately. He’s a great student-athlete. I’m going to miss him.”
Caplan was named All-SCC First Team and All-State Class M. Rodriguez said Caplan is leaning toward playing at Trinity in the fall.
“He carried us a lot this year and scored a lot of important goals,” Rodriguez said.
• MF: Kelvin Cortez, Wilcox Tech: Sophomore Kelvin Cortez was a catalyst in what had been an elusive victory in the state tournament for the Indians, which came against Northwestern in the Class M first round.
“Kelvin is very young, but he’s been around the game for many years. You can tell,” Wilcox Tech coach Joe Testa said. “He’s a team player and he’s a special player at midfield. He knows what to do with the ball. So we try to feed him the ball and he looks for opportunities to attack or pass the ball.
“He’s played pretty much every minute of every game. He’s a special player and I could see him getting better.”
Cortez scored 16 goals and assisted on 11. Testa said Cortez’s jump in performance this fall caught him by surprise.
“Looking at him, you wouldn’t think he would have the stamina or strength he showed this season,” Testa said. “He knows what to do with the ball and he’s very, very good. You can see this kid wants it and it’s a blessing to have him, especially after losing all of those seniors last year.”
Testa said Cortez has a nose for the goal and can also score from outside of the box.
“I believe he had 16 goals from the midfield position,” the coach said. “To find a midfielder that scores 16 goals is not easy. He’s not even a striker. He probably could have scored more. He’s very unselfish.”
• MF: Adrian Janko, Platt: Senior Adrian Janko was rock solid in the middle of the Platt attack and served as the team’s lone captain this fall.
Platt coach Tim Redican said Janko was a terrific all-around player for the Panthers.
“He’s a great kid first and foremost,” Redican said. “He’s always there. He always works hard and you can always count on him to give his best. He played banged up a lot during the season. He’s a strong player, a talented player. He played in the senior game and he showcased some talents that I was impressed with and he opened some eyes because he was playing around more talented players. He’s a good kid and a hard worker and that’s why he is here.”
Redican said Janko’s best attribute is his leadership.
“He leads by example, but he also is really positive,” Redican said. “He gives positive feedback and constantly encouraging his teammates in a good or bad situation. He gives other players credit when credit is due.
“Physically, he is a strong person and wins a lot of balls in the middle and he’s tough to defend.”
• MF: Mitch Manware, Cheshire: Mitch Manware was the senior captain for the Rams, who finished the season 11-3-5.
“It was a joy to see Mitch Manware develop over the years,” Cheshire coach Artur Branco said. “He was vital for our success this year due to his ability to adapt and play various positions on the field. He is a true team player, always willing to help and work for the team when needed.”
• MF: Andre Pereira, Cheshire: Andre Pereira made a major impact in his lone season with Cheshire after playing his first three scholastic seasons at Oakwood Soccer Academy.
He scored a team-high nine goals and was selected All-SCC First Team and All-State Class LL.
“Andre Pereira was an enjoyable player to watch,” coach Artur Branco said. “He was identified by the league coaches as one of the better players in the SCC and state. Andre is extremely technical, understands and reads the game very well. Andre will be a very effective collegiate soccer player. I am looking forward to see him play at the next level.”
• D: Hayden Burbank, Southington: Junior Hayden Burbank was a defensive stalwart for the Blue Knights and, when he had the chance, he was able to contribute all over the field.
Burbank took Southington’s penalty kicks and most of the corner kicks. He finished with five goals and three assists and was named All-CCC in the Central Region.
“He has tremendous leadership qualities and leads by example,” said coach Dave Yanosy. “He is respected by his teammates. We were built from the back with strong players like Hayden. He had five goals and three assists as a center-back. That’s a good total for that position.”
• D: Mike DeFeo, Southington: Senior Mike DeFeo was another key piece of the Southington defense in tandem with fellow backs Hayden Burbank, Eli Rodriguez, Kieran Tindall and Mike Mauro and goaltender Evan Daddona.
The Blue Knights allowed just 17 goals during their 10-3-2 regular season. DeFeo was named All-CCC Central.
“He’s the third and final DeFeo that I’ve coached at least one for the last 10 to 12 years,” coach Dave Yanosy said. “Mike played every minute of every game the last two years. He did a wonderful job. He’s a good leader and a hard worker and is deserving of the honor of being the captain. He’s a rock-solid decision maker. If there’s a battle, he won’t lose it. He’s a reason why our defense was so strong this year.”
• D: Francisco Ortega, Maloney: Only a sophomore, Francisco Ortega inherited the duties of last year’s Record-Journal Soccer Player of the Year Tyler Cave as the Spartans top defender.
“He’s solid and you know he’s going to lock up the back,” Maloney coach Dave Parness said. “He just comes with a smile to practice every day. He’s going to give you everything he’s gotten every day.
“He’s a two-year starter. He started on the outside last year and, when Tyler graduated, he stepped in. It was funny when we talked about him taking Tyler’s spot and his eyes opened up really wide. Hopefully now he realizes how good he really is and how good he can be.”
Parness said Ortega is a potential All-State player in the coming years.
“He’s deceivingly fast,” Parness said. “There’s not a lot of opportunities where he’s one-on-one with a guy and he gets beat or he’s chasing a guy. He knows how to play the angles and he knows where to be to give enough space to be able to stay in front of a guy.”
• D: Ahmed Said, Sheehan: Senior Ahmed Said anchored the Sheehan defense the last two seasons. He was also used as a center-back this fall. He had a critical goal in a home victory against Jonathan Law.
“He’s just a great leader and a great student-athlete,” coach Lou Rodriguez said. “He’s ranked No. 2 in his class. I’m going to miss him. The kids really love him. He’s a big part of our success this year.”
Said was a critical to Sheehan’s run to the Class M quarterfinals.
• G: Evan Daddona, Southington: Still only a junior, Evan Daddona was difficult for opposing attackers to solve in his second season as Southington goaltender.
Daddona backstopped the Blue Knights from start to finish in 2016. He posted six shutouts between the pipes, including three straight down the homestretch before the season ended in the first round of the Class LL state tournament, 2-1, to Newtown. Daddona was named All-CCC Central Region.
“Evan’s an elite-level goalie,” coach Dave Yanosy said. “He won the starting job as a sophomore. His biggest improvement this year is that he’s stronger in the air on corners and set-pieces. He’s like having a 11th player on the field. He’s good with his feet and we are comfortable playing it back to him.”