AHF-Norwich Tech joint soccer team charges toward state tournament

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Baltic - posted Mon., Oct. 14, 2013
AHF Eagles midfielder Amy Roberts is right on target during the team's recent game against Putnam. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.
AHF Eagles midfielder Amy Roberts is right on target during the team's recent game against Putnam. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.

An unlikely partnership has breathed new life into the soccer squad at Baltic’s Academy of the Holy Family. The Marist Eagles joined forces this year with Norwich Technical High School to field a two-school girls’ soccer squad, which has earned a berth in the upcoming Constitution State Conference tournament.

It’s been a win-win situation for both schools. Co-captain Emily Kivela, a Norwich Tech sophomore, said that last year, the only way she and two other female soccer players at her school could compete was on the boys’ team. “They didn’t get to play much, and they didn’t win any games,” explained co-captain Hannah Steinke, who’s a senior at AHF. Meanwhile, the Academy struggled with fielding a team from its small student body with no farm system, and with winning games against much bigger schools.

This year’s squad is made up of eight Norwich Tech students and 11 Academy students. Both girls admitted the first few practices felt a little awkward, but a team party finally broke the ice for good. “Then we ended up just being really good friends,” said Steinke. “And [the team] ended up being better off for it.” The team’s third co-captain is AHF’s Mary Roberts, a junior.

“I was a little nervous when we first started. I didn’t know how [the two schools] were going to blend,” said coach Tina Gromko, who served as assistant coach at AHF for the past two seasons. “But they really are fantastic, a great group of girls.” Gromko, who is assisted by Tom Scott, has also coached softball at the Academy.

The start was only a little rocky. “The first game, we tied Wolcott 3-3,” said Kivela. “Then we got used to each other, and we just beat Wolcott 5-1,” she said of the teams’ second match-up of the season.

Gromko said that the blended team has resulted in a no-cut policy, which means that for the first time in a long time, the Marist Eagles have a junior varsity team. “They practice with the varsity, and we ended up picking up three games for them,” she said. “We’re hoping that the excitement we build from when we play may encourage more Norwich Tech girls to come out for the team.”

At press time, the Marist Eagles’ season record was 8-3-1, which included their 5-2 victory over last year’s CSC champion, Putnam. The CSC playoffs get underway the first week of November, with the tournament the following week.

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