Seniors David Giusti and Chris Curiale pose for a photo at the varsity NCHS Rams Soccer Team's Senior Night at Dunning Field, Oct. 22, 2014. Credit: Michael Dinan
Lisa O’Rourke’s son Jack, a senior captain of last year’s New Canaan High School varsity soccer team, had been on the side that won states as a freshman.
The varsity NCHS Rams Soccer Team players pose with their parents during Senior Night at Dunning Field, Oct. 22, 2014. Credit: Michael Dinan
This year, her son Ted is a tri-captain on the same team, and what a bookend it would be to see the state tournament-qualifying squad win that title again this season.
If the Rams have a secret weapon headed into the CIAC tourney, it may be their chemistry: Most of the 17 seniors on the team have been playing soccer together with the New Canaan Soccer Association since their youth travel days.
“They’re together in school and on the field and they really don’t need to look where they are,” O’Rourke said Wednesday from the stands at Dunning Field on Senior Night, moments before the Rams squared off for their final regular season game against Stamford High School. “They know where they are with respect to passing. It’s a chemistry that has grown over time and it seems as though it’s peaking right as need be.”
A cake for the NCHS Rams senior soccer players awaits at the Hawes Plaza tunnel on Senior Night, the final regular season game of the 2014 campaign. Credit: Michael Dinan
A windswept, rainy ceremony prior to the game—the Black Knights edged New Canaan, 4-3—saw iconic NCHS Rams figure Bill Brown take over the PA from Mick Jagger (“Gimme Shelter,” aptly) to read aloud the names of each senior Rams player. The boys received a flower for their moms, met their parents at midfield and posed for photos, while the parents enjoyed sandwiches, chips and other snacks in the Hawes Plaza tunnel—a table set up there beneath a “Lambs to Rams” banner that featured snapshots of the boys playing soccer as youths beside current photos.
For many parents, it seemed like yesterday that the boys were that young, making Senior Night a little bittersweet.
Whitney Williams, senior tri-captain Chase Williams and Nick Williams at the varsity NCHS Rams Soccer Team’s Senior Night at Dunning Field, Oct. 22, 2014. Credit: Michael Dinan
“I have mixed feelings about tonight,” said Nick Williams, whose son Chase is a senior tri-captain. “I’m excited that Chase is a senior and that he will be going off to college. But I’m certainly going to miss him. I’m going to miss going to all of his games, or at least as many as I go to. It’s been great.”
“I don’t know if it’s the World Cup or the fact that we’ve got a great youth program now, but I think you are seeing that from top to bottom,” Williams said. “This year’s boys’ team has done a lot better than last year. The girls’ team continues to do well.”
Julia Portale, tri-captain Alex Hutchins and Cam Hutchins at the varsity NCHS Rams Soccer Team’s Senior Night at Dunning Field, Oct. 22, 2014. Credit: Michael Dinan
His dad, Center School alum Cam Hutchins, estimated that 90 percent of the seniors played NCSA together and it’s helped them learn each other’s strengths, speed and tendencies.
“So it’s fun to watch them play—win, lose or draw—it’s fun to watch this team play,” Hutchins said. “They’re good kids.”
And good parents, too.
“We’ve all pulled together,” she said. “We wanted to make it a very inclusive year, and the parents pulled together very early on and they wanted to make it inclusive, and the kids pulled together.”
Editor’s Note: Senior tri-captain Ted O’Rourke was unable to play Wednesday or attend Senior Night because he’s unwell, that is why he’s not in the gallery with his parents at the top of this article. Ted: Feel better soon, we hope you are back on the pitch for states.