Torrington's Tyrrell bails out Eastern Connecticut's women's soccer team
WILLIMANTIC – Let’s just say Alexis Tyrrell’s position between the goal posts for the Eastern Connecticut State University’s women’s soccer team wasn’t exactly planned on. And for all you athletes who are hoping to continue careers on a college level, a note – It’s probably not going to happen Tyrrell’s way.
Tyrrell, a junior, completed a month-long stint as Eastern’s starting goalie Thursday night with the Warriors 2-0 loss to UMass Boston in the Little East Conference Women’s Soccer Tournament semifinals in Pawtucket, R.I. It wasn’t exactly where Tyrrell or Eastern expected her to be on an early November night or any soccer night for that matter.
Tyrrell is softball. That’s where we remember her from starting with her standout career at Torrington High. College meant softball where she showed her considerable skills this past season earning All-LEC honors while stoking the ball at a ,350 clip and driving in 21 runs and becoming a focal point in the Warriors third place finish in the Division III NCAA Tournament in Texas.
Soccer was not on the college radar. Heck, Tyrrell had only played goalie the second half of her senior year at Torrington. So how do you end up as the starting goalie for a team that nearly gets to the championship game of its conference with no plans, no tryouts and no preparation?
How about plenty of athletic talent, being in the right spot at the right time, no fear and a lot of word of mouth. Not exactly your typical path to the college athletic arena, but you never know.
Eastern actually started the season with three goalkeepers. Never enough. One decided not to play and a couple of games into the season one had to step away from the program. To complete the disappearing goalie saga, starting keeper Erin Collins was lost for the season in early October after needing surgery for a broken finger.
“We were in jail and Alexis bailed us out,” said an appreciative Eastern coach Chris D’Ambrosio. “We would have had to use a field player.”
“I was working as event staff and happened to be talking to (D’Ambrosio) and he asked me what I did in high school and I told him I played goalie but only the second half my senior year,” said Tyrrell. “Then when Erin got hurt she said you should play goalie. Coach was there and it escalated from there.”
“As soon as were down to one goalie I called Alexis and asked her if she would be interested and she said she would,” D’Ambrosio said.’
Let it also be mentioned that in a nice example of college coaching collegialityD'Ambrosio contacted softball coach Diana Pepin to get her approval as did Tyrell.
Tyrrell got the call on Oct. 8 and call this baptism under fire. The first time on a competitive soccer field in three years on a college level in a position where she had limited experience with just a half of practice under her belt. And just for hah-hahs the opponent in nationally ranked Connecticut College.
“I was very nervous and a little scared, I hadn’t played in three years and I didn’t want to let the team down,” said Tyrrell. “But, I knew we had a good defense and I know I can catch the ball. I thought I could do all-right. I was having fun with it. “
Tyrrell also got the hard feel of the game again.
“I got flipped on a play and had whiplash in my neck,” said Tyrrell. “I had to go through concussion protocol. When that happened, I was worried but since then it’s been okay.”
Conn College won the game, 3-0, but Tyrrell more than held her own. The Warriors have struggled with a tough out of conference schedule this year and finished the season at 7-12. But along the way, Tyrell has shown that D’Ambrosio knew what he was doing when he sought her out.
“Phil Stevens, who is the Superintendent of Schools in Willington and our goalie coach, works with Alexis and she is a natural athlete, she can judge balls as well as anybody and jumps really well,” said D’Ambrosio.
“Because I love sports, I think things come quicker to me,” said Tyrrell. “Coach said some of the things I do take years to learn for some. “
There has also been a learning curve as might be expected.
“One of the things I learned is that when you drop back in the goal and punch the ball out you use the opposite hand you would use in soft all to catch the ball. In softball I catch with my left hand, in soccer I use my other hand to punch the ball.”
What does the future hold? Was Tyrrell a one-season wonder? Even she doesn’t know.
“It’s up to the coach,” she noted. “He has three freshmen goalies coming in but with freshmen you never know,” she noted.
There is also an issue of torn labrums (shoulder issues) from so much softball. So will Tyrrell play soccer next season? Will softball have a companion sport? Who knows. She didn’t plan on playing this season.
What is known is that she is more than capable.
Hardly the traditional way to get into a college sports starting lineup. But you never know and if you are like Alexis Tyrrell you take on the challenge and make it work. She certainly did. Now go check her out on the softball field this spring.