Last week, the Litchfield High boys soccer team received the best surprise it could have asked for this season. Daniel Dieck took the field for the first time Wednesday when the Cowboys played Nonnewaug.
The senior captain was sidelined with a broken left wrist that was expected to keep him out the rest of the soccer season, but the recovery went much faster than originally expected.
There was a bit of a scare during Dieck’s return against Nonnewaug when he fell awkwardly, but after the wrist checked out fine, he was back on the field the next day against archrival Wamogo.
While the Cowboys were shut out by the Chiefs, Dieck scored the opening goal against the Warriors on Thursday to spark Litchfield’s 5-0 win. Litchfield coach Rob Andrulis said Friday that Dieck’s return will absolutely be a boost for the team.
“It is great to have him back, and we hope to keep him healthy,” he said. “He is a very important part of the team, not just because of his ability as an athlete, but the leadership he provides is tremendous.”
Dieck still has a cast on the wrist, which needs to be wrapped before games and practices. Andrulis said it will take some time for Dieck to get back to 100%.
“He obviously doesn’t have his soccer legs yet,” Andrulis said. “We’re giving him time to get back into full game mode. He hasn’t really played a full game yet. When he is out there, he looks pretty good. He just gets winded.”
Litchfield also welcomed fellow senior captain Harry Barnes back to the lineup Thursday after he had been sidelined with a hip injury. Litchfield (5-2) will need Dieck and Barnes to hit their stride in order to keep up with Nonnewaug (8-0) and Shepaug (6-2).
“Hopefully, we can get on a nice roll with them back in the lineup,” Andrulis said.
It didn’t take long for the Lewis Mills boys to surpass their 2020 win total. The Spartans (4-1-2) won just three games last season and didn’t earn their first win until Oct. 29. This year, they opened the season with three straight wins and picked up win No. 4 Thursday against Berlin.
Last season’s COVID-condensed schedule meant Lewis Mills only played against seven Central Connecticut Conference opponents, including top programs like Farmington, Avon and Plainville.
This season, Mills has already beaten Bristol Eastern, Maloney and Northwest Catholic along with Berlin. The Spartans lost to Plainville in their only meeting this season and will not face Farmington or Avon.
This weekend marked the halfway point in the season for many teams. In the Berkshire League, that means facing off against the other eight league foes for a second time.
“It is always entirely different (the second time through the league) because you sort of know what to expect,” Nonnewaug girls soccer coach Nick Sheikh said. “But at the same time you know how competitive things can be. We know the second half is always the difficult half of the season.”
The Chiefs made it through the first half of the season unscathed, putting them in the driver’s seat for the league championship. But the players know they still have to earn it.
“We know going in that we can’t be overconfident and we really need to put our best foot forward and play hard against these (BL) teams,” Nonnewaug junior Samantha Conti said. “We beat them once, but we have to come out strong when we play them again.”
The Watertown-Oxford girls game was postponed Saturday because of SAT testing at Oxford.
No makeup date has been announced yet.
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