Two first-time picks who have been captured playing their sport through impressive highlight reels this season have been selected as the “Athletes of the Week” for area scholastic sports. They are Bristol Eastern senior girls soccer captain Leah Policarpio and Bristol Central junior football running back/linebacker Shawn Rodriguez.
Policarpio, the daughter of Bridgeen and Joe Policarpio, is Eastern’s lone team captain.
“Leah is an incredible player who is extremely versatile,” Lancers coach Scott Redman said. “She is the stabilizing force in the middle of the field for us. She is also our creator, tied for the team lead in goals (10) and second on the team in assists (6). She was named to the CCC All-Conference team as a freshman, junior and senior, losing her sophomore season to a knee injury.”
Policarpio and her teammates are coming off a 2-2 tie with Bristol Central last week and entered postseason play yesterday with an 8-5-3 record, the same as their crosstown rivals. Eastern has been in the state tournament eight straight years.
“We are practicing on our touches and just getting ready for the tournament,” Policarpio said. “We made it to the tournament the past few years. We haven’t made it past that too many times, so our goal is to go past the first round.”
The tournament results will also have an impact on city bragging rights with both public schools in the fray.
“I would say that my team’s ultimate goal was to win,” Policarpio said. “We couldn’t capitalize on all of our chances. Central beat us the previous time we played them.”
Policarpio took up the game at an early age. Her parents played in high school in Ireland and in the Philippines. She appreciates everyone who has helped her to this point, including Redman and his assistant, Angela Saporito.
“They’ve helped me as a person and player,” Policarpio said. “I believe both have different views, which helps create a good mix when it comes to coaching our team. They are good at letting me and the team know how to pick each of us up during practice and in games.”
Next year, Policarpio will be attending Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania, where she will continue her soccer career while studying to become a physician’s assistant.
As far as a highlight reel goes, click onto “HUDL Leah Policarpio” and see her flip throw against Newington last month.
Rodriguez, the son of Sarah Bernardo and Felix Rodriguez, had two standout games in a row for the Rams. The first was a 34-0 win over host RHAM in Hebron a week ago Saturday, in which he scored four touchdowns, had 28 carries and gained 217 yards.
This past Friday in Central’s 21-16 loss to visiting Newington, Rodriguez took a seven yard pass from quarterback Victor Rosa to score and later recorded two extra points on a run.
“Shawn has had a real solid season for me,” Central coach Jeff Papazian said. “He’s one of the hardest workers we have in practice day-in and day-out. So it wasn’t all that surprising to me that he had a big night against RHAM. We needed to find our offense from a different place that night and he stepped up.
“He’s come a long way since his freshman year. He’s matured a bunch, much more focused all around and has worked really hard to become a good football player.”
The Newington loss was a disappointment.
“We played hard throughout the game, but at the end of the day they came out with the win,” Rodriguez said. “But I’m still proud of my team.”
Rodriguez started football in New Britain with the Hurricanes, a youth program. His dad had played the game and he was looking for something new to do. He first performed from the running back and cornerback positions.
“Now, I’m the running back and linebacker,” Rodriguez said. “I just like the vibes to it.”
His team goal for this season and next are for the Rams to keep the Thanksgiving Day Bell. He’d also like the team to win out this season and improve on its win-loss record in 2020. He also has high individual goals.
“My senior year I want to get All-State,” Rodriguez said. “Another goal is college, where I hope to make it big, to put Bristol on the map.”
His play this year can be seen at “HUDL Shawn Rodriguez.”