There's something to be said for familiarity.

Rich Sutherland may be new to the world of coaching the New Canaan High School varsity boys soccer team, but he's certainly no stranger to the town itself -- or to winning soccer.

Sutherland has coached a handful of New Canaan teams, including U12 and U10 girls soccer, he has served as the director of coaching for NOGA and he has previously worked with several members of the Rams' varsity roster.

"It was obviously intriguing for me and it made sense to make the transition," Sutherland said. "We've got quite a few players back from last year, and as the years go on, we'll look to make the players better and more capable."

Sutherland is inheriting a winning program, one which enjoyed three consecutive winning seasons and a Class L State Championship in 2010 under former coach Victor Sanchez, who now coaches in Florida.

"We definitely want to make it to the state tournament," Sutherland said. "I'll have a better feel for what we can do once we get going, but the players are going to be coming back to me with their targets and what they want to achieve. States is a prerequisite."

According to New Canaan Athletic Director Jay Egan, Sutherland's familiarity with the town, as well as his versatile track record, made him an ideal candidate for the job, even among many other impressive applicants.

"He's a guy that has experience at a lot of different levels. He understood the landscape as far as competing with other sports and what it would take to maintain a competitive soccer program and enhance that program," Egan said. "We had other strong candidates with good backgrounds, but for all those reasons, we felt he had all the skills necessary to build our program."

Sutherland sounded excited about the prospects of New Canaan soccer, both in the short term and the long term, even expressing a desire to see the children he recently coached in Kindergarten come up through the town's youth soccer programs and eventually play for him in high school.

"That's obviously the plan. I would like to see kids come all the way through from Kindergarten," Sutherland said. "It would be a success to do that, and I hope I'll be around to see it."

Egan, too, believes the Rams have found their man for years to come.

"All the things he's said and all the things he's doing indicate that he's intent on building the program," Egan said. "65 of 92 players are freshmen or sophomores, and he's worked with some of those boys already. It seems he understand that programmatic piece of what he's doing."

jchik@bcnnew.com Twitter: @jchik17

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