BL to Host First-Ever Soccer Tournaments


Noreen Chung

Nick Pannofino settles the ball Oct. 11 against Terryville. The Nonnewaug boys soccer team is the No. 2 seed in the first-ever Berkshire League tournament this week.

Samantha Conti, Editor-in-Chief

WOODBURY – For the first time ever, the Berkshire League will host postseason tournaments for soccer.

The tournament includes the top four teams in the league for both boys and girls. On the boys side, the qualifiers are No. 1 Litchfield, No. 2 Nonnewaug, No. 3 Shepaug and No. 4 Thomaston. The girls tournament will include No. 1 Nonnewaug, No. 2 Thomaston, No. 3 Northwestern and No. 4 Housatonic. 

The tournament will begin Wednesday, Nov. 2 with semifinals held at the sites of higher-seeded teams. Nonnewaug will host both games involving the Chiefs: the boys will face Shepaug and the girls will take on Housatonic.

The winners of the semifinals will advance to the tournament finals Nov. 4 at Nonnewaug. The girls championship will start at 5 p.m., followed by the boys championship at 7 p.m. Admission will cost $5 for students and $10 for adults.

In past years, BL soccer teams had a break between their last regular-season game and the state tournament, since the majority of surrounding leagues use that week to host their postseason tournaments.

Nonnewaug girls soccer coach Nick Sheikh thinks this tournament will help further prepare the team for their tough Class L tournament games ahead. Although the Chiefs (15-1) clinched the BL regular-season title with a 12-1 win against Gilbert on Oct. 21, they ended the regular season Oct. 31 with a 2-1 loss against Housatonic.

“I think it can help us gauge where we are at as far as: shoring up little things, being able to work on set pieces, and corners,” said Sheikh, whose team will be the No. 1 seed in Class L. “In those games we were playing to win, but I think once the regular season is over it gives us a chance to hit the reset button.”

The same applies for the NHS boys soccer team as it heads into the state tournament. The Chiefs finished the regular season 13-2-1, although they lost their second-to-last game of the year against Shepaug on Oct. 27.

“I am hoping it helps us to stay sharp,” said NHS boys soccer coach Toby Denman, whose team will be the No. 4 seed in the Class M state tournament. “It’s a little preview of win-and-advance or lose-and-go-home — that type of atmosphere is difficult to reproduce in practice.”

The BL holds tournaments at the conclusion of other sports seasons, but has never held one for soccer. The most popular BL tournament is during the winter for girls and boys basketball.

“I feel like winning the basketball championship in the winter is a pretty big deal, even if it’s separate from the regular season,” said Denman. 

Ultimately the BL champion in every sport is determined during regular-season play, but the tournament is an extra add in. Now, soccer teams will have the same opportunity as the hoops teams get.

“The league got together and decided that there’s a tournament for basketball,” Denman said, “so we’re going to have a fall soccer tournament also.”