Shelton girls soccer hosts Glastonbury tonight

Lily Bacca, Julia Pulley and Mia Ferreira are Shelton's girls' soccer captains.

Lily Bacca, Julia Pulley and Mia Ferreira are Shelton's girls' soccer captains.

Shelton High Athletics / Contributed photo

Shelton girls’ soccer coach Marvin Miller believes success comes in cycles. Nine seniors graduated with a combined record of 34-4-6 over the past three seasons. Miller, in his 16th year, is ready to put this year’s squad on a similar course.

“Right now, we are putting together a puzzle that gives you a slightly different picture than we’ve had the last three or four seasons,” he said. “We have a lot of talented and hard-working kids coming up from jayvee. We are on a learning curve. Once we stabilize a bit and figure out how we can tweak our game to work with these kids, we’ll be okay.”

Shelton (10-1-1 last year) opens its season when Glastonbury (11-0-0) visits Finn Stadium tonight at 7.

“The Glastonbury game will tell us who is going to step up for us and are ready to take on the battle,” Miller said of the newly nicknamed Guardians, defending Class LL champs from 2019 and winners of 4-of-6 state titles. “Glastonbury is no pretender. They have a tremendous program with a great legacy of winning. Across the board they have outstanding coaches and players. If you are going to win big games (in states) you have to beat good teams like this. We will step in and give the best measure of ourselves.”

Lily Bacca, Mia Ferreira and Julia Pulley are team captains.

“Julia is our senior keeper. Emily Codere is a junior,” Miller said. “They have played evenly in scrimmages (Berlin, Trumbull). I expect they will platoon in the position. Both are very capable goalkeepers. I’m not worried at that position.”

Replacing four graduated back liners, including All-SCC Division C performers Emily Sandin and Elizabeth Porto is no easy task.

“Junior Ava Champagne saw quite a bit of varsity time last year and Jenna McGuire is a rising sophomore making some noise,” Miller said of his quest. “Mia Chen was out last year due to an ACL tear. She was fine as a sophomore and is back for her senior season. Ellie O’Rourke is a senior who played off the bench last year. Molly McNeil is another fine back showing some excitement. Plus, we have a couple of sophomore and freshman fighting to work into the rotation.”

Kayleigh Bartlett, an All-SCC Division C choice, is back.

“We’ve been playing around with Kayleigh Bartlett in the midfield,” Miller said of his junior. “Mia Ferreira has looked good there, as has Lily Bacca. We have another senior who will help in Adriana Franzese.

He added: “If we get our back four stabilized, we’ve entertained the notion of moving Jenna (McGuire) out of the back and making her a holding midfielder. We want to get Kayleigh Bartlett up and more into our attack. Sophomore Isabella Tellez had a great freshman year at the varsity level. She can be forward for us or an attacking midfielder.”

Noelle Garretson, last year’s leading point producer and an All-SCC Division C selection, has graduated.

Miller said: “Isabella Tellez is our most experienced striker at this point. Lily Bacca has looked good there when we move her up from midfield. Audrey Kozak is a junior who played outside mid off the bench last year and we think she has potential up top. We are working with some sophomores, seeing how they look.

“I feel good that we have kids with the ability to score the goals,” he added. “We have to control the space in our own end and learn how to transition to take advantage of the speed and attacking ability that we have.”

Tough schedule

“We have Glastonbury and Cheshire our first two games,” Miller said. “We are home and away with Amity, Mercy, Hand, Cheshire, Lyman Hall and Sheehan —those are tough games on anyone’s schedule in the SCC. This is one of the hardest schedules we’ve faced in a lot of years.”

william.bloxsom@hearstmediact.com Twitter: @blox354