STONINGTON — The Stonington High boys soccer team went undefeated during the regular season, captured the ECC tournament championship and, ultimately, reached the Class M state quarterfinals.
So it’s hardly a surprise the Bears, who finished 19-1-1, racked up numerous postseason honors. They had one All-New England selection, two All-State picks and 10 voted to the ECC Division II All-Star team — five first-teamers and five honorable mentions (there is no second team).
Cam Whalen led the postseason honor roll. The senior center back was named All-New England, Class M All-State and to the ECC Division II first team.
Senior goalkeeper Adam Gibbs earned All-State recognition as well as first-team Division II honors. Junior midfielder Jamison Magowan, junior outside back R.J. Parrilla and senior midfielder Shane Smith were also named to the D-II first team.
Whalen, the top vote-getter among ECC soccer coaches for postseason honors, was a valuable defender thanks to his speed — he’s also a state champion hurdler in track — and a dangerous offensive weapon on set pieces because of his long throw-ins and precise free kicks, both of which created numerous chances for the Bears.
The two-year captain finished the 2017 season with three goals and seven assists. He also played in the Senior Bowl, which features the state’s top seniors.
“You don’t run into players like Cam very often,” Stonington coach Paul deCastro said. “We were very fortunate to have him in our program for four years. We haven’t had an All-State player in 10 years; we’ve never had an All-New England player. It’s a tremendous honor for him.
“There really isn’t a lot he didn’t do for us. It was great to coach him for four years. He’s going to be hard to replace.”
Gibbs was a backup for two seasons before taking over in net, and he was a big reason the Bears allowed only 12 goals all year. In fact, only once did an opponent score more than one against them in a game (a 3-2 SHS win over Bacon on Oct. 18).
His biggest game came against Tolland in the Class M second round, when, with Stonington trailing 1-0, he made two crucial saves on well-struck shots to keep the Bears in the game.
“He’s a great shot blocker who made a lot of great saves when we needed it most,” deCastro said, alluding to the 2-1 win over Tolland.
“And anytime we were in trouble, we had the advantage of playing it back to the goalkeeper,” the coach added, noting that Gibbs grew up playing forward. “So he’s not only great with his hands but tremendous with his feet. There’s not really much question of who was the best goalkeeper in the ECC. It was Adam by a lot.”
Gibbs finished with 10 shutouts.
Smith was the holding midfielder in Stonington’s 3-5-2 formation — the midfielder who held back, “allowed the four other midfielders to attack at will, did the dirty work, defended and did all the things nobody sees,” deCastro explained.
“We would’ve never been able to play the formation without him. He really was the glue for our midfield. We kind of referred to him as our dirt-dog player. He passed the ball to all the guys that got all the goals and all the assists.”
Smith scored once and had three assists.
Magowan developed his game greatly from his sophomore to junior year, deCastro said, and his impact was a major reason for the Bears’ success.
“The other team had to be aware of him at all times,” deCastro said. “He got bigger, better, faster, better with the ball, just made tremendous improvement with his game. … We knew he was going to be a handful this year. Technically, he’s about as good as it gets, not just on our team but in the conference and in the state.”
The versatile Magowan, who played center midfield, wide midfield and forward, was second on the team in goals (12) and first in assists (14).
Parrilla, another junior, has started since his freshman year, deCastro said. He, too, was responsible for the Bears being able to use five midfielders.
“He played every second of every game,” deCastro said. “He’s got a bright future ahead. He’s going to get better. He’s got the aspiration to play at the next level and I think he can do it. He’s really well-rounded — defends well, tackles well, gets forward well, wins a lot of loose balls. He’s a really good player.”
Parrilla had four assists.
Sophomore midfielder Tyler Fidrych, senior defender Will Hardy, senior forward Harrison Hoops, junior forward Graham Johnstone and senior midfielder Jason Kilcoyne were honorable mentions to the Division II All-Star team.
Fidrych had 10 goals and 10 assists out of his center-midfield spot. The improvement he made from his freshman year was “tremendous,” deCastro said. “The sky’s the limit for him. He really contributed a lot to this team as a sophomore.”
Jonstone, who also played wide midfielder, is another 2018 returnee for the Bears. He led the team with 13 goals (including five during the ECC tournament) to go with three assists. “He got the ugly goals, but those count too,” deCastro said. “He has the ability to be at the right place at the right time. We’re counting on him next year.”
Hoops, who scored twice in the Piver Cup final, a 3-0 win over Fitch, finished with nine goals and nine assists. “He has a very powerful shot, good speed, a very talented player,” deCastro said.
Hardy played out of position in the back, and “deserves a lot of credit for that,” deCastro said. “He’s a very hard-nosed player, a great competitor and someone who we’ll definitely miss.”
Kilcoyne played center and wide midfield, was a captain and four-year player for Stonington. He had two goals and three assists. “He was one of our most important players,” deCastro said. “He did a lot of the dirty work, winning 50-50 balls, defending. He was our most underrated player but the most respected.”
Senior Luke Monteiro received the team’s sportsmanship award. Gibbs earned the scholar-athlete honor.