Law boys soccer benefits from team's balance

Law's Lex Edwards (above) and Fillipe Mourao were named All-State in boys soccer.

Law's Lex Edwards (above) and Fillipe Mourao were named All-State in boys soccer.

Law Athletics / Contributed photo

Talent could be found from back to front this year on Jonathan Law’s boys’ soccer team and that ability to play well throughout the lineup helped Law post a 7-5 record.

Captained by Lex Edwards Jaden Wywoda, Jacob Nastasia and Jonathan Contaxis, coach Mike Gruber’s Lawmen advanced to the SCC B Division semifinals before losing 3-2 in the final two seconds to eventual champion West Haven.

“From the start of the season to the end of the season every player played an important role whether it was in games or in practice,” said Gruber, who was assisted Jason Sales. “Our goal was to improve every day and outwork the other teams.”

Junior goalkeeper Wywoda had a stellar year.

“Jaden played fantastic throughout the season. He made some huge saves and I am very proud of the growth I saw from him,” Gruber said. “His shot-stopping and technical ability got better every game.”

Gruber believes the best is yet to come from his keeper.

“He will be one of the top goalkeepers in the SCC next year and I think he is just scratching the surface and will only get better. Jaden was an important reason why we had so much success this year and will play a huge role next year as well.”

“The most goals we gave up all year in a game was three and it was usually one or two.”

Also returning in goal will be freshman Declan Wywoda and sophomore Oren Sedelmaier. Gruber said: “Both those guys did a great job in practice helping our team both on the offensive and defensive side of the ball.”

Law’s defense was staunch, led by Nastasia, Aiden King, Jackson Warters, Contaxis, Thomas Bretthauer, Dom Baldino, Luke Henricksen, Brian Goglia and Dash Geda.

“Jonathan Contaxis is a four-year starter and rarely got beat on the wing,” Gruber said. “He is very athletic and played very smart on the field. Jacob Nastasia, who was a starter for the last two years at center back, performed well helping us keep our shape in the back and making it hard for opponents to score.”

King, a junior, was another top center back and finished with 3 goals.

“Aiden King was our most improved player and did an amazing job working with Jacob. He will be relied on more next year with all the experience he got this year.”

Warters was counted on to shut down an opponent’s top threat.

“Jackson was our workhorse and got up and down the field providing both defense and offense support,” Gruber said of his junior. “He has a great work ethic and will be one of the better defenders in the SCC next year.”

Midfield is where possession is earned. Gruber was pleased with his middies ability to out-work the opposition and jump start the attack.

“Our midfield took a giant step this year and was key for us in controlling games,” Gruber said. “Each player in the midfield brought something to the field and allowed us to be more of an attacking team. Last year we didn't score many goals and one of our goals this year was to score in every game. We only got shut out once, which was our first game. I was pleased that we created scoring chances throughout the year.”

Senior Fillipe Mourao, who produced a point a game with 5 goals and 7 assists, was selected All State and All-SCC Division.

“Fillipe is a very technical player and scored goals in big moments in big games,” Gruber said of his four-year starter. “He scored the game-winning goal against Shelton off a beautiful volley and scored against West Haven twice which were huge goals.”

Edwards (All State/All SCC and All Area) scored 6 goals and had 7 assists.

Gruber said: “Lex is a junior and is already considered one of the best players in the SCC because he always puts in the work to do so. He still hasn't reached his full potential and carried us in some games. He scored winning goals against Amity, West Haven, Foran and East Haven. Some of the stuff he does on the field you just sit back as a coach and say I am lucky to have a player with his quality because he changes the game.”

Gruber was impressed how freshman Cooper Fitzgerald stepped up this season.

“Cooper played an important role taking over the spot that was created by losing Jon Vitale to graduation,” he said. “Cooper and Jon are very similar players both athletic and both started every game as a freshman. Cooper has so much untapped potential that it's going to be exciting to see him grow in the next three years. He had three assists on the season and did a wonderful job playing his role in the defensive midfield.”

Gruber liked how Law’s outside midfielders created opportunities to score.

“Ryan Dimuro (junior) is a very technical and smart soccer player. He moves off the ball well and works hard each game. Mason Turner (junior) work rate is very good and he continues to improve. He is a true post to post player and has scored goals for us,” Gruber said. “Marcelo Silva (3 goals, 3 assists) and Chris Wooten are seniors that did a great this season both on the offensive and defensive side.”

Strikers Marcus Dostal (2 goals, 4 assists), Eliot Megar (2 goals, assist) and Nick Tapia led the attack.

“Marcus is a pure striker and has a nose for the goal and beating defenders. I think next year he will have a huge year in which he could score 10 goals or more,” Gruber said of his junior. “Eliot as a freshman was a very technical player and his movement off the ball was fantastic. Nick is a junior and he is a target striker that worked to regain possession if we lost the ball. All will be back with us next year which is very exciting.”

Reserves played a large role, according to Gruber.

“Dylan Soule (sophomore) Connor Calderone (sophomore), Ethan Harrigan (senior) Brady Mccourt (sophomore) and Omar Alzubi (junior) all saw playing time and those coming back will be asked to play more important roles next year.”

Gruber took a look back at the campaign.

“We had some goals this year: stay safe, outwork other teams in games, score goals, improve in practice every day, and have fun and we accomplished that,” he said. “I want to thank the seniors this year for putting in the work for the last four years and to our captains who did a fantastic job leading and guiding the team this season.

“All-in-all this year was a learning experience of how to win games and be competitive whenever we stepped on the field,” Gruber added. “We were proud to finish second in our division in the regular season and win against really strong opponents. Each loss gives us fuel for next year and we return many players which is very exciting.”

Law’s rostered seniors are Chris Wooten, Ethan Harrington, Marcelo Silva, Fillipe Mourao, Jacob Nastasia and Jonathan Contaxis.

william.bloxsom@hearstmediact.com Twitter: @blox354