The shortened season may have given local student-athletes less time on the field, but that did not stop them from doing everything they could to fill up the stat sheet.
Having fewer games gave the athletes additional motivation to make the most of their opportunities this season and many of the ones who did that earned spots on this year’s All-Press Girls Soccer Team.
The Bristol Eastern girls soccer team returned to the playoffs this year after posting a 5-5-1 record in the regular season and lead this year’s All-Press team with four student-athletes.
One of the leaders offensively for the Lancers was junior Ciara Collins, who tied for the team lead with five goals along with three assists this year.
“[A] leader on the field, [Collins was the] most consistent and dynamic player for Eastern this season,” head coach Scott Redman said.
Eastern’s other top scorer was sophomore Emily Nelson, who notched two assists this season in addition to her five goals. For a team that earned every goal it scored, Collins and Nelson were the go-to players when the Lancers were in their attacking third.
“A high impact forward with great technical skill to finish around the goal, Emily was key to the Lancers offensive attack,” Redman said.
The success of the back line was crucial in Eastern’s wins as they held opponents to fewer than two goals in each victory. Anchoring the Lancers defense was sophomore Cecilia Gilbert, who served as the primary on-ball defender throughout the season.
“[Our] most consistent and athletic defender, [Gilbert] always marked the best player from the opposing team,” Redman said.
Alongside Gilbert was junior Audra Porowski, who strengthened the team’s defense, which was often challenged by talented offenses.
“[She] solidified defense as a center back and consistently battled against elite offensive attacks,” Redman said.
Bristol Central was the first team to miss the CCC Region B postseason after a 4-6-2 campaign that featured tightly contested matchups.
A mainstay on the Rams’ back line, senior Lily Hansen closed out her career as a four-year starter at Central. Always taking on the opponent’s toughest offensive player, her presence will be difficult to replace next year.
“Her speed, her toughness, her knowledge of the game, and her ability to stop the other team’s best player have contributed largely to the success of the team over the last few years,” head coach Ginny Godbout said. “I cannot say enough how important it has been to have her back there. She has saved us on a number of occasions. This year was no different. We had to play some tough teams, and Lily rose to the challenge every time. Although we didn’t always get the results we wanted, things could have been worse if it weren’t for the play and leadership of Lily.”
Joining Hansen on defense was junior Ashlee Crumrine, who made the move to defense after starting in the midfield that past two seasons. Finishing the year with one goal and five assists, filling that spot on defense was crucial for the Rams.
“Ashlee has been a three year starter for us, but this year saw her play a much different role,” Godbout said. “She had been one of our midfielders the last two years, but this year found us in a pickle on defense. I knew right away that Ashlee was the person to turn to, and without hesitation she took on the job. What a job she did too. She showed everyone what a versatile player she can be. The combination of Hansen and Crumrine in the back was perfect. Ashlee knows the game so well, and in many ways became like a coach on the field. I really don’t know what we would have done without her back there this year.”
Lastly for Central is senior Bella Bosco, who served as a primary offensive option for the Rams and finished the season with six goals and four assists. Dangerous with the ball at her feet, Bosco was a player that opposing teams planned around stopping for all 80 minutes.
“Bella’s dynamic play definitely makes her a player who stands out,” Godbout said. “Other teams often double if not triple team her. It is incredible what she is able to do with the ball at her feet even in those situations. She is unfazed by the pressure (even though she is often one of the smaller girls on the field) and the shots she gets off often leave people in awe. Many of those shots end up being game changers for us. Again, she has largely contributed to the success of this team.”
While Terryville’s season may not have played out the way it wanted it to, there was still room for individual success from its players.
Earning All-Berkshire League honors for the second straight year, junior Zoe Zappone just finished her third consecutive year as the Kangaroos leading scorer. She finished her 2020 season with seven goals and five assists and was the focal point for much of Terryville’s offensive attack.
“Highly skilled, technical player with a great understanding of the tactical side of the game, [she] always makes the right soccer play,” head coach Brian Rosano said. “[She] controlled the middle of the field both in attack and when defending. [She has a] really high soccer IQ and fitness level, grew into more of a leadership role as the season progressed.”
Another All-Berkshire League selection, senior Kelly Poulin just completed four years starting at center back for Terryville. Leading with her experience, Poulin always made sure to leave a mark on the Kangaroos biggest contests.
“[A] vocal and emotional leader of the team, like a coach on the field,” Rosano said. “[She has] strong foot skills, probably could have been a dangerous forward for our team.”
Completing this year’s All-Press is a pair of All-State selections from St. Paul in Nina Zwolinski and Sophia Gerst. Leading the Falcons to a 6-3-1 record, they will be missed by the team next year.
A mainstay on the All-Press squad since entering high school, Zwolinski was named to the All-State team for the third time in her career after locking down St. Paul’s goal for four years. She moves on to continue her time on the pitch at American University next year.
“She’s a very hard working girl,” coach Flavio Pereira said. “A role model for the team, for the players, a team player, really. She’s always the first one to come to practice and the last one to leave and always working very hard to improve her game. She was very effective in so many games for us.”
Gerst received All-State honors for the first time this year after spending her senior season as captain for the Falcons. She was one of three St. Paul players to be selected to the All-NVL Iron Division team.
“She brings her spirit as a soccer player, she’s been playing since she was a little kid and it shows up when she goes on the field,” Pereira said.