SOUTHINGTON - One of the most talented Southington girls soccer players in program history signed off to play at Bryant University on Wednesday as Nina Muir made it official in front of friends, family and classmates. The stress that the recruiting trail brings for Muir and others across the country is common, but another common part of the process is the relief of having it finalized. Muir said with school factoring into the process it was hard, but she's glad the paperwork and documents have been signed. Having an abundance of friends and family with her to celebrate the day made it a special one for her.
"It was very stressful with school going on and everything, but after I committed finally, there was a lot of relief with it," Muir said. "... When I signed at home to make it official, it was a very different atmosphere. Having all my friends here, it's a lot more heartwarming."
Muir, one of the elite goal scorers at the forward position in the Herald-Press area, had an offer locally to play at a high-talent Central Connecticut and other area colleges. Despite the strong program in New Britain, Muir wanted to venture outside of the state of Connecticut, to get away a little bit, and found Bryant as on opportunity to not just play soccer and live with a distance from Southington, but also to pursue academic aspirations. "CCSU, I was talking to them. I was talking to Marist and some other Div. III schools," said Muir. "... I definitely didn't want to stay close to home, and I knew I wanted to be a little further out. For schooling wise, I was focused on business, and Bryant was the better education option."
With Muir only getting two varsity seasons, one of which was hindered by COVID-19, her senior season was a major factor into her recruiting process this year. In her senior season the forward tallied 15 goals, the third highest goals scored in a season under head coach Mike Linehan's tenure. In a shortened junior season she had nine goals, which Linehan said could have doubled if the season played out in full.
On her success in her senior season, Muir said it was a turning point where she was able to showcase herself at the high school level after having already established herself as a key player for her travel club.
"It helped tremendously," said Muir. "The game where (Bryant assistant coach Ashley O’Brien Heidelberger) came to watch me was at Southington. Most college coaches only watched Premier (Muir's travel soccer club) games, so being so late with committing it was nice to have this season to have her get to see me play."
Linehan praised Muir as a program-changing player, running off memories of her success at the JV level and her varsity level, adding that opponents are thankful she's moving on but will be missed on the attacking line for the Blue Knights next season.
"She certainly was a player that helped us change the program over the last four years," said Linehan. "She's been feared by most opposing teams, and there's actually defenders that are cheering that No. 16 is graduating. ... Her physical and aggressive approach to the game made her a nightmare for most defenders. ... We thank (Muir) for (her) contribution for the Southington.
Last season, Bryant was led by head coach Andy Biggs to an 8-10 record in the Northeast Conference, with a conference record of 6-4. Bryant is located in North Smithfield, Rhode Island and is a Div. I athletics institution.