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Lewis Mills girls soccer: Marinelli helps keep winning a team effort.

POSTED October 27, 2010
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

BURLINGTON- There may be brighter stars on her team that get the press and limelight, but make no mistake about it, junior Paige Marinelli is a starting to take her rightful place.

From her left-wing position, Marinelli, who has a natural advantage by being a lefty, has become one of the best all-around players in the Berkshire League.

The Spartans are taking no prisoners this season, they have outscored their opponents by a 76-6 margin, and Marinelli has been a big part of the offensive assault with 15 goals and 13 assists (team-leader).

On a team that features the likes of Lindsay Muri (team-leading 21 goals) and Bobbi Bergstrom, it would be easy for this junior to fly under the radar, but her coach has noticed.

“On a team like this, Paige could easily be overshadowed by the big names,” Dennis Fowler said. “But to her credit, she has made herself one of the best players in the Berkshire League right now.”

Her soccer journey began when she was just eight years old, and she saw some of her friends take up the game she has learned to love.

“My parents started to get into soccer around then too,” Marinelli said. “I like the competitive nature of the game and could get pumped up for it easily.”

In Burlington, they take their soccer seriously. Being part of a program that has won the league title in 19 of the last 23 seasons, has created a culture of winning.

Although the Spartans have not won the league in the past two years, if they win their next two games, they clinch a tie; three wins in four give them another title.

The only teams standing in their way are Wolcott Tech (8-0 win, first time), Terryville (also an 8-0 win), Litchfield (6-0) and last year’s BL champions, Nonnewaug (a hard fought 5-1 win).

How does the team get fired up when every game is a blowout? Easy, says Marinelli, they adhere to the words of their coach.

“We try and keep our concentration on the game we are about to play,” Marinelli said. “While also keep looking at the big picture.”

That big picture has goals in mind.

Step one. The perfect season. 16-0 and a BL title.

Next up will be the State Tournament, where the team hopes to leave their mark after several close calls the past few seasons.

A year ago, the Spartans lost a heartbreaker to top-ranked Suffield, in the Class M quarterfinals by a 1-0 score, ending their season a bit too early.

Suffield has been a thorn in the Spartans side for a good long while, having beaten Mills 3-2 in the Class M Championship game all the way back in 1998.

This year, if the opportunity presents itself, this team hopes to change their luck.

Marinelli would welcome a chance to feel the joy she felt as a freshman when she won a State game against Ellington with an overtime goal.

“Paige went in to play during the overtime,” Fowler explained. "With just over three minutes gone, we went on a counter attack. Paige made her way to the top of the box and let a shot go. It bounced off the post and into the net for the win.”

Marinelli remembered a feeling of happiness and pain.

“I couldn’t breath under the pile,“ Marinelli said. “But it was a great feeling.”

The 2010 soccer team acts a lot like another team Fowler coaches, the basketball team.

On the court, a Fowler-led team is known for playing some tenacious defense, everybody goes after the ball all the time.

That approach has taken hold on the soccer field as well; these girls attack on both sides of the ball.

“My job is to run the ball down,” Marinelli said. “Even if we turn it over. we don’t just give up on it. We go get it.”

That approach always makes Fowler smile, as does this teams ability to play as one.

“This is a very tight knit group,” Fowler said. “It’s not easy to find a team that gets the chemistry just right.”

Marinelli has played an important role in developing that bond that keeps the team up, even if things are not clicking at that moment.

“We don’t blame each other out there if something doesn’t go right,” Marinelli said, “We just focus on the job at hand and get it right.”

This team has not faced much adversity this season in their first 12 outings; they have trailed only twice all year.

Both times that they did, against Gilbert and Northwestern, it was Marinelli who stepped up and scored the equalizer.

What will they do if they fall behind early in a future State game?

If their reaction to going down early in games they eventually won by four or five goals is any indication, this should not be an issue.

“We might be a bit frantic at first,” Marinelli said. “But against Gilbert when we got behind, we got angry, not at each other, but at the fact that we were behind.”

Lord help the team that angers this group, it may not be pretty.

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