Jonathan Law rings bell on record-setting season

Jonathan Law boys soccer team, led by 11 seniors, went 14-1-1 in the regular season.

Jonathan Law boys soccer team, led by 11 seniors, went 14-1-1 in the regular season.

Law Athletics / Contributed photo

Jonathan Law followed up its 14-1-1 regular season with a run in the Class M state playoffs for coach Mike Gruber. The Lawmen defeated Cromwell 3-2 on penalty kicks, topped Norwich Tech 3-0 and took Ellington to PKs before falling 5-4.

“There were a lot of highs for us this season,” Gruber said. “We won our division for the first time in 36 years (1985-86 team won CCIAC). We wanted to make the SCC tournament for the first time, and we did. We were a top four team for states and got all home games for the tournament. We beat some big LL teams that we hadn’t defeated in the past. That was one of our focuses, to play with anyone on any day. We had opportunities to score goals and we attacked and attacked and put pressure on teams.”

Marcus Dostal scored 22 goals and Lex Edwards 20.

Law finished 7th in the M/S Division coaches poll.

“To go up a goal that took a lot of pressure off our defense and these two took care of that,” Gruber said of his senior tandem. “If Lex had off day, then Marcus picked him up and vice versa. If they both had on days, then we weren’t losing. It was good to watch them grow together on the field, how they handled it through their senior year.”

Jaden Wywoda posted 10 shutouts in goal.

Gruber said: “From the first to last game, Jaden was well prepared. With his technical skills, his ball distribution and his shot stopping, he was great. He made big saves in games to help us win. In states he made three saves on penalty kicks when we moved on from the first round. In the second round and quarterfinal he made big saves.”

Law’s ability to stall attacking opponents was key to its success.

“Aidan King, Jackson Warters, Mason Turner, Thomas Bretthauser, and Brian Goglia were rock solid,” Gruber said of his defense. “They prided themselves on those shutouts.”

Gruber broke down contributions from King, Warters, and Ryan DiMuro, who were captains alongside Edwards and Wywoda.

“Aidan may be one of the best leaders I’ve coached. He brought intensity with him every day because he wanted to make himself and everyone around him better. When the ball was in the air I never had to worry. From center back, he was a true general. When we needed a goal off a set piece, Aidan was the one who scored. That says wonders for him. He wasn’t on the team as a freshman and played jayvee as a sophomore. He stepped into a big role last year and never gave that spot away. Aidan will go down as one of the best center backs in Law history.

“Jackson Warters has elite traits and is a lock-down one-V-one defender. He played our first eight or nine games, then was back for states after he was hurt. We could put him on any side of and he would shut down any attack.

“We moved Ryan DiMuro around this year because we needed to. Some games he was center midfield some games attacking midfield, sometimes wide for distribution. Ryan is a smart player and played through a lot of injuries. He was a warrior. He didn’t get the goals or the assists, but he was the one that started everything.”

Controlling midfield meant controlling play.

“Cooper Fitzgerald started every game the last two years,” Gruber said of his sophomore middie. “He won the 50-50 balls. He covers so much space. The sky is the limit for him the next two years. Dylan Soule, played wing and center mid. He is a junior, very smooth with the ball and settled things down when we needed it. He reads game well and is an important piece moving on. Eliot Melgar, a sophomore like Cooper, is good with either foot. I think he scored 4-5 goals with 6-7 assists. He is a big attacker coming back. He can finish anything in the box.

“Calden Calderone gave us great minutes. He is fast with good foot skills. A true winger, he attacks players one-V-one, and had a bunch of assists. Luke Hendricksen is a hard-working senior. He scored a couple of goals and gave us instant energy off the bench. Dom Baldino same thing. He came on the field with intensity. Hurt for a bit, he battled through and had a nice season.”

Gruber pointed to his senior players commitment to the program.

“We had 11 seniors that began the season, all 11 finished the season, all 11 got to play in state games and all 11 showed up for the last day of (post-season) practice even though they didn’t have to do it,” he said. “It is a tight-knit group. They are like a family. They were good on and off the field. They look out for each other.”

Personal accomplishments brought with them great results.

“Nick Tapia scored his first goal ever against Norwich Tech,” Gruber said of his senior. “Dylan Soule scored the decisive PK (13-11) in our win against Cromwell. We were up 12-11, Jaden made the save and Dylan made his shot. Lex scored in the Ellington game. We went to penalty kicks: they hit all five we missed one.”

Edwards finished with career with 29 goals and 26 assists. He scored against every opponent except Guilford.

Gruber said: “We needed to win that game to make the state tournament his freshman year. We put him on defense, we won and made states.”

Dostal finished with 35 goals and 15 career assists.

The Lawmen return talent.

“Alex Rodrigues a freshman had three goals, seven assists,” Gruber said. “He will be a nice attacking piece for us. Michael Montes as a freshman saw time as a defender and in midfield. We were deep. Sometimes we played 15-20 kids. It was a roster with a nice mix.

“We are going to be competitive for the next couple of years,” Gruber added. “I don’t know if it will result in the wins that we saw this year, but I know that we will be in every game with the core of players we have coming back,” Gruber said. “We do lose a lot of leadership. That is the next step. Who is going to be the leader next year? Who are going to set the tone and do what our five captains did? Who will teach what it means to be a Law soccer player: to step on the field and not back down against anyone, anywhere? Two years ago, we were 0-12-2. That was this group of seniors. We had to learn how to win.”

Honors: Jaden Wywoda and Lex Edwards were named to the All-State team. The duo were first team All-SCC. Wywoda was chosen Male Soccer Player of the Year by officials. Marcus Dostal and Jackson Warters were secoind team All-SCC. Mike Gruber was named SCC Coach of the Year. Twitter: @blox354