Sports Person of the Week
Porte Was Everywhere the Tigers Needed Him
Junior Chris Porte was jack-of-all-trades on the soccer field for the Hand boys’ soccer squad this fall. Chris and the Tigers put together another epic season that culminated in the club’s fourth-straight state title. (Photo courtesy of Chris Porte )
Chris Porte did a little bit of everything to help the Hand boys’ soccer team win its fourth-straight state championship this fall. Chris wasn’t just one of the Tigers’ top defenders, he was also one of their best dribblers. And whenever fellow junior Scott Testori needed someone to get him the ball on a cross, Chris would be there to supply him with a pinpoint pass.
Chris’s versatility went a long way toward Hand’s success in 2019. The Tigers only lost two games all year on their way to making the SCC final, claiming another state title, and finishing with an overall record of 17-2-4.
“Our goal from the beginning of the year was to collect the silverware in late November. When we did it, it just added more to this school’s soccer legacy,” Chris says. “None of us wanted to be a member of a team that lost it. Now, we’re thinking about a five-peat.”
The hallmark of Hand’s season was an excellent work ethic among a group of athletes who displayed a constant desire to improve. Head Coach Greg Cumpstone says that Chris exemplified those traits on a day-in, day-out basis.
“Chris’s work ethic is infectious. It seemed to permeate through the rest of the team,” says Cumpstone. “Chris is one of those defenders who, if he does lose possession of the ball, wants it right back. He’s going to go after it.”
While Chris’s true position is outside defender, he also played central midfielder for the Tigers. At times, Chris moved up to play the forward position on the wing. No matter where he played, Chris always knew that he was in good company on the pitch.
“I’d usually line up on the right side. I’d be there along with Jason [Wallack]. We were always working to try and get the ball into Scott [Testori],” Chris says. “He’s a great player who just always seemed to find a way to finish. If you managed to get the ball up high, he’d get his head on it.”
Chris has been teammates with Testori since they were both in 4th grade. In addition to playing for the Tigers, they compete together during the offseason as members of the Connecticut Rush soccer squad.
“It’s really all about the chemistry,” says Chris, who’s also Testori’s teammate on the Hand boys’ basketball team. “We’re always together. We have a great connection on and off the playing field.”
While Hand had a storybook season, there were a few turning points for the Tigers. The first one came when Hand played North Haven to a 4-4 draw on Oct. 15.
“It was a tough match that I thought we probably should have won,” Chris says.
Hand then rattled off seven-consecutive victories before taking a 1-0 loss to Guilford in the SCC final.
“I think we were a bit too overconfident going into that game,” says Chris. “Losing the game was a letdown.”
However, the Tigers defeated Guilford when it mattered most by earning a 2-1 victory over the Indians in the Class L semifinals after winning 4-3 on penalty kicks. That win sent Hand to the state championship game, where the Tigers notched a 4-3 double-overtime victory versus Wilton to take the state crown for the fourth year in a row.
“That was the most stressful game I’ve ever played in,” Chris says of the final. “Scott got us that goal early in the second half, and I was hoping that we could close it out. Then they scored and we go to overtime and it gets hectic. Once Jack [Green] scored with only a few minutes left, I knew we weren’t going to concede again.”
Chris and his colleagues now set their sights on capturing their fifth-straight state championship in 2020. Coach Cumpstone is expecting big things from Chris as a senior after he worked so hard to have a great junior campaign.
“Last year, Chris wasn’t good crosser of the ball. It was probably the weakest part of his game,” says Cumpstone. “Well, he kept working and working at it. Now, he’s the best on the team.”