A long winding road into the state tournament for Thomaston girls soccer
The road is long
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where
Who knows where…..
THOMASTON – How about the state tournament!
The Thomaston High girls soccer team earned a spot in the post season Monday afternoon with a 1-0 victory over Northwestern Regional. What’s the big deal you’re thinking. After all, while a qualifying for the state tournament is nice accomplishment and a preseason goal for virtually every school, it is a fairly common occurrence for many and usually lends itself more to satisfaction than jubilation.
Ahh, but you have to appreciate Thomaston’s journey and its road to this point to understand reactions like that of seniors Emily Root and Sydney Stevenson.
“This is awesome, just complete happiness, “ said Root who plays goalie. “Every athlete knows that this is one of those special moments. It shows how much improvement we’ve made. We reached a goal we’ve been searching for four years. I’m so proud of what we’ve done.”
“This means everything, it’s always been our goal and we’ve always fell short a few games,” said Stevenson. “We proved everyone wrong. They underestimated us thinking Thomaston was going to be an easy win. This year we came together as a true team. It made me proud.”
The road is long? How about 21 years long. The program’s journey? How about torturous. Root and Stevenson’s pride and joy speak for the scope of the journey and dogged persistence over the years to keep the program going and make it into something.
The Golden Bears were a field hockey school long before soccer came into play. When the program was formed in 1998 field hockey was entrenched and there was no middle school feeder program although a healthy town recreation program
The program struggled from the start. Competing against two other fall sports, field hockey and cross country, numbers were erratic and talent in the 120 girls or so school was spread thinly. The Bears lasted 10 years the first time around before pulling the plug before the 2009 season after being outscored 124-4 the final season and numbers having dwindled to 11 or so players depending on the day.
It proved to be a temporary break. Thomaston and Terryville put aside their fierce rivalry and co-opted for the 2012 and 2013 seasons, breathing new life back into both programs. Thomaston was able to use the co-op as a jumping point to attract interest and returned to field its own team in 2014.
In the last six years the Bears numbers and talent have been on the rise culminating in this season’s breakthrough. And if you are looking ahead, the middle school along the way did add soccer and is fielding powerful teams these days.
Excuse current coach Jen Ewart if she is doing a bit jump, hop and skip these days. Players come and go; high school is short lifespan. Ewart came, went and came back. She has seen it all.
Ewart was there when the team folded after the 2008 season. She answered to the name Miss Fisher. Since then she has added a husband and two children. While she was building a family the coaching duties were a memory. This is her first season back since the team folded. Nice present.
“This is pretty remarkable, it feels awesome and has resurrected my passion for the sport,” said Ewart a physical education instructor at Thomaston High. “I never expected to come back and coach because during the hiatus I was raising my family. It is nice to see a feeder program and what this team has accomplished. The program has been on the incline the last four years and in order to be successful you have to have the right attitude, work hard and be committed. These kids have that drive.”
Nothing comes easy and certainly the clinching win was one more struggle. Thomaston needed a goal with five minutes left in the game to break a scoreless tie and earn its jubilation.
“We had to defend for five minutes and that feeling of trying to hold on to the lead was, I can’t explain it,” said Ewart. “It was very emotional (at the end). You tell them that hard work pays off and they actually experienced it.”
“The last three seconds Alyssa Brostek came over to me and gave me a big hug and said we did it,” said Stevenson. We proved everyone wrong and for the first time Thomaston history made the tournament.”
It was a long, often frustrating trip. But after 21 years, the road with more turns than New England weather led to the state tournament. That is a very cool destination. Monday was the biggest day in a very big season for Thomaston girls soccer. And the biggest day in a 21-year odyssey that encompasses the program.