Bolton girls are already feeling the benefits of new coach – Hartford Courant


Bolton – Joe Finocchiaro brings a full resume to his position as Bolton women’s football head coach and says he chose the job over other openings because of the proximity to his home.

Fiocchiaro coached Glastonbury’s women’s team to five state championships and was named All-USA Girls Soccer Coach in 2017. After leaving Glastonbury after the 2020 season, Finocchiaro said he spent a lot of time at skiing and swimming, while working, which he always does. Looking for a new coaching job last summer, he learned of Bolton’s opening and noticed the school was actually closer to his home in East Glastonbury than GHS.

“There were actually a few openings, and I thought his seemed like a great place,” he said.

The team’s captains said that while they liked their old coach, Paco Ruiz, they approved of their new one.

“He’s really good. I like it,” senior Isabel Kenney said. “I think it was a very big change for us, because we had our old coach for so long, and we loved him and were all very close to him. This change, although we were a little hesitant, was a really good change. It’s just a different style of play, and we weren’t used to it, but it worked better with us.

“I think in training we do a lot more conditioning with the ball and more strategy, which shows when we’re on the pitch,” senior captain Julia Zimmerman said. “It’s different from what we did last year, but I think we will do better this year.”

“This year we are starting with a clean sheet and a new coach,” said Madison Peacock, also a senior captain. “We all, collectively, as a team, came together, bonded and grew stronger, in terms of character. Joe certainly helped us with that. His positivity pushed us. It shows in training and it shows in games.

The Bulldogs’ opener was something of a 3-1 win over Cromwell, who Bolton lost to last year.

“Expectations are a bit high, but it gives us a lot of energy and encourages us a lot,” added Peacock.

“They are fine. We just try to take it one day at a time,” Finocchiaro said, after a 2-0 loss to Suffield in the second game of the season. “We’re trying to get match fitness. Suffield are a first class team. To be able to compete with them, I am very happy.

Bolton took almost as many shots on goal as Suffield and trailed in possession time, but only slightly.

Finocchiaro said Bolton has many multi-sport athletes and many of its players also play basketball and softball. This bodes well for the team, as many players understand the levels of competition and have playoff experience.

“There is tournament experience,” he said. “This school, because it’s so small, has a lot of tri-athletes. They still play together and now they are happy to play football together, which some of them have been doing since they were four years old.

The new coach also benefits from a starting line-up made up entirely of juniors and seniors, and said he felt he was building on the culture left behind by Ruiz – adding to it rather than changing it.

“I think the pieces were all there, and they just needed a little more direction,” he said. “Paco has done a fabulous job of bringing the program to where it is, and I’m just adding my style of play.”

The schedule provides for numerous tests for the new formula. The coach says Ellington, Granby, East Granby and Suffield will all be NCCC contenders, and Bolton can face those teams. The goal, of course, is to do well in the conference, but also to qualify for the state tournament.

“We have tough matches. This [Suffield] will be one of our toughest,” he said. “Ellington is tough. We played them in a jamboree. Our expectation is to get to the state tournament. We’re just trying to prepare for November.

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Richard V. Johnson