Published December 23. 2012 4:00AM
Colin Delaney can laugh about it now, but there was a moment - fortunately for him a brief one - when he considered making Jeff Tryon a defender for his entire high school career.
Let Delaney, who has built Montville into one of the region's elite boys' soccer programs, explain:
"We didn't have a spot for Jeffrey as a freshman, but he was too good to keep off the field. We started him at center back, which is a pretty big responsibility - especially for a freshman - and he did a tremendous job, so when he began his sophomore year I wasn't sure if I should move him up into the attack or leave him there.
"I never want to pigeonhole our players, but I thought that's what we might do over the next three years."
Fortunately for Delaney, the Indians had developed enough depth in the backfield, which afforded him the luxury of moving Tryon up into the attack. Tryon played in the midfield as a sophomore and spent the last two years as a forward, where he became the Eastern Connecticut Conference's most dominant offensive threat.
He scored 56 goals over his final two seasons, but saved his best for his senior season. The 6-foot-1, 175-pound forward, despite enduring double teams throughout the year, finished with state bests in goals (36) and assists (16). He also had 13 multiple goal games, including six hat tricks.
Tryon, who led the Indians to the ECC tournament title and a berth in the Class M semifinals for the third straight year, has been named The Day's 2012 All-Area Boys' Soccer Player of the Year for the second straight year.
He also earned Class M all-state, All-New England and All-American honors - in addition to being voted Connecticut Player of the Year by the Connecticut Soccer Coaches' Association.
"Jeffrey's been able to do some special things on the attack," Delaney said. "He's such a versatile player, is technically sound, has a physical presence and is so fast … I get a lot of calls from coaches asking me where they see him as a college player and I tell them, 'Honestly, he can play anywhere. He's that good of an athlete.' "
The 16 assists were also proof that Tryon was an unselfish player, a source of pride for both player and coach.
"Both (goals and assists) are kind of important in my mind," Tryon said. "I knew this year people were going to put a man or two on me, and when that happens it made it a lot easier to get assists because that means someone else is open and I don't mind making a good pass."
Added Delaney: "He doesn't care how we score … as long as we score."
Delaney said Tryon developed a level of maturity that allowed him to wear the bull's-eye on his jersey the entire season and still excel.
"We had a lot of conversations about that going into this year," Delaney said. "We knew coaches would have to game plan for Jeffrey, which was evident from the start. We knew teams were going to try and frustrate him, but he learned how to handle the mental side of the game, the physical side of the game and the tactical side of the game.
"Jeffrey's a tenacious player on the field and he likes to win, so naturally at times you're going to get frustrated. I saw a player that was more mature, more even keeled and did a good job keeping his emotions in check. He plays with so much heart and so much determination the guys around him feed off of that."
Added Tryon: "Obviously there are times when your emotions get the best of you, but throughout the years I think I was able to play with more focus and just concentrated on playing the game."
He will continue to play the game, too, and at the Division I level. Despite being recruited by a number of programs throughout the country, Tryon is going to stay at home and will choose between UConn, Hartford and Central Connecticut early next year.
"After looking at things it's just going to be easier for my family and myself to stay closer to home," Tryon said. "And all three are good programs, so I don't mind staying in state."