NEW CANAAN, Conn. – Steven and Robert Valente have been key players for the past two years on the New Canaan High School boys soccer team, including the Class L state championship squad in 2010.
Now, the brothers are hoping to lead their Beachside under-16 squad to its first Region 1 championship. Norwalk-based Beachside, ranked No. 3 in the country, takes on a team from Rhode Island in Friday’s first round at a tournament in Lancaster, Pa.
The Valente brothers have played for Beachside for three years, including last year’s squad that reached the Region 1 tournament. The team did not advance to the single elimination round.
“Hopefully we can win it this year,’’ said Robert, a defender. “We remember what it felt like last year. Normally after a game, we’ll have everybody clap. We didn’t clap after we lost last year. It was a disappointment. We want to be the first Beachside team to win a regional.”
Beachside is coached by Norwalk High coach Chris Laughton. The team includes players from Norwalk, Westport and Ridgefield along with a few other towns. The Valente brothers are the only team members from New Canaan.
Both brothers made the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference All-East team last fall, when the Rams finished 9-5-5 and advanced to the semifinals of the league tournament and the second round of the state tournament.
“At Beachside, we all want to go to the next level,’’ Steven said “In high school, it’s all about trying to win the state title for your school. It’s a little bit different brand of soccer. At Beachside, it’s all about maintaining possession and getting quality shots. In high school, we play a little bit more kick and run.”
Both boys believe Beachside has a golden opportunity to advance out of regional play. The team plays three pool play games, and the top team from each of the four pools advance to Monday’s semifinals. The winners play for the championship Tuesday. The Region 1 winner advances to the national championships beginning July 22 in Rock Hill, S.C.
“Winning the region championship has been our primary goal all season,’’ Steven said. “To become the first Beachside team to win a regional championship would be great.”