MILFORD - Foran and Jonathan Law soccer players have returned to the practice field for full sessions. While health metrics remain in place, gone are 1-hour tightly controlled practices.

“With practice starting for real, and a scrimmage set up for this weekend, it is good for the kids to have something in front of them, something to train for and believe in,” Law boys soccer coach Mike Gruber said. “Before, we did about 30 minutes of conditioning every day, progressions on the ball, just non-contact stuff. We could only practice for 1 hour, so the kids had to stay disciplined so we could do as much as we could.”

Foran boys soccer coach Rick DiStefano said: “We are super excited getting back to full sessions. We were doing half a session conditioning; half a session technical work with social distancing.”

Cohorts

“There are 10 people allowed in a cohort,” Gruber said. “We split the cohorts up, and the players stayed in the same cohort. We have 8 to 9 kids in each cohort for a total of 36 players.”

DiStefano said: “We have 28 kids total so we had three groups. We kept work between varsity and jayvee kids in the same cohort. That way if one kid got sick we weren’t going to lose say our back four for two weeks and maybe the first 3 or 4 games.”

New rules are in place.

Masks are worn on the way to and while exiting the field. There are health screening forms filled out daily. All equipment (soccer balls, cones) are cleaned after every session. No longer are there big jugs of water on the sidelines, players bring their own clearly marked container.

Staying active

“Milford United Soccer, youth soccer, has been able to go since late June,” DiStefano said. “The league had programs. CJSA (Connecticut Junior Soccer Association) had summer league games. So, the Law kids, the Foran kids, the Sheehan-Lyman Hall team…pretty much every school in the district had these summer high school teams coached by other than their high school coaches. So, all the kids have been very active.”

Gruber said: “The kids have been great. They played in the summer league that Milford United offered. We are a well-rounded team, led by Lex Edwards. He is now a junior and can take the next step and be one of the best players in the SCC. We are athletic in goal with junior Jaden Wywoda, a two-year starter. We have 7-8 starters returning from last year and are a heavily based junior team.”

Foran will be led by some top-flight talent, including All-State selections Ben Carlson and Luca Marinelli.

“Ben was an ODP (Olympic Development Program) Region I player as center back, selected as the best center back before his junior year,” DiStefano said. “Luca is the best high school goalkeeper in the state. Last year we conceded 16 goals in 17 games. Of those 17 games Luca had 9 or 10 clean sheets (a program best).”

The duo will have plenty of help.

“Thomas Kummer is an outstanding center midfielder,” said DiStefano. “Eric Haig, who was injured last year, is a senior left defensive midfielder. While we have a lot of sophomore-junior starters, we have a lot of talented senior players. We were outstanding defensively and should be better this season with Erik coming back. He will be our holding midfielder, and that will allow Thomas Kummer to push up higher and give us more attacking options.

“Christian Boutote is a sophomore. He played well last year and will be a creative withdrawn striker for us. Basit Iddriss and Owen Bell are two juniors who were unbelievable players for us last year. Owen stepped in when Erik got injured and was our surprise of the year when it came to his development. Bassett moved to Milford midway through his freshman year after the season was over. What a year he had last year, turning into a dynamic outside back.

“Ben and Owen are two center backs, Basit on one side and Jack D’Avignon, who started every game last year as a freshman, will be the other outside back. Ben Cogan will be our high striker. He is very clinical, a back-to-goal striker. He holds play up well very well and has a quick shot.”

Schedule

Law and Foran have 11 SCC scheduled regular season games against teams within close-proximity (Amity, Shelton, Platt Tech, West Haven, NDWH, Career-Hillhouse), with a 3-game post-season.

“To be perfectly honest, this could be the best overall team we’ve had,” said DiStefano, who named Brayden Young, Nick Agresti and Liam Young as leaders. “Daniel Hand is the gold standard for success in the SCC with 4 state championships in a row. We really wanted to play them (original schedule). It would have been a good test for us.”

Law will host Foran in the season opener on Oct. 1.

william.bloxsom@hearstmediact.com Twitter: @blox354