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Payton Graham and Abby McCarthy. Raiders girls soccer stars.

POSTED March 30, 2020
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

Since we ran this story in the LCS Magazine, Abby McCarthy has picked the University of Hartford, a Divison I college.  Congrats! 

Abby McCarthy

Torrington Girls Soccer

Junior Goalie #1

How long have you been playing soccer and how long have you been in goal?

I have been playing soccer since I was seven years old. I started playing in goal when I was in about 5th grade but I really didn’t start fully playing it until 8th grade when I started premier. 

Talking in goal seems to be a real strength for you as you direct your teammates. Where did you learn that and how does that help you in goal?

I learned to communicate through my Premier coaches and goalie coach Kamil. I learned a lot about what to say from a summer camp I attend called soccer plus. During the winter my coach really wanted me to communicate more and my dad knew that so he bet me if I could communicate with my team the entire game every game for the whole spring season, he would pay me fifty dollars. And of course, I can’t back down on a little wager so I did it and I’ve been talking to my team ever since. I really feel it has improved not only my game but also my teams. 

Do you play any other sports?

In the springtime I run track, competing in the 4 x 800 relay, the 1600, and 3200. 

I hear you are a pretty good mid-fielder as well. Do you have a preference between being in the nets or on the field?

Overall, I prefer being in goal. However, it is enjoyable to run around on the field and try my hand at scoring goals once and awhile. In the winter my coaches like to put me on the field because they say it improves my skills in goal as well. I also have a decent amount of foot skills so I like to finally be able to test them out when I can. 

What makes a good goalie?

I feel like my determination and a little bit of craziness makes me a good goalie. I’m not afraid to really get into the play and throw my body on the line. 

Talk about your relationship with Payton. You two seem to work pretty well together. How has it made your job easier?

Payton and I have been playing since the beginning. We connected very quickly too. Our relationship over the years has really grown and that has positivity impacted our playing. I have a lot of trust for her as I believe she does for me. It’s like our minds are connected because we know what the other person is going to do before they do it. I work with her the best out of anyone of my both teams, she’s by far the person that works with me the best because of the immense amount of skill and talent she has. 

Do you plan on playing soccer in college? 

I 100% plan on playing soccer in college. That is all I’ve wanted to do since I was a little girl. I have a goal to one day maybe be able to play Division I soccer.

Where are you looking?

I really liked Central Connecticut State University. I feel like that school would be the best for me, considering it is Division I and it offers all the programs I am interested in. 

Talk about how you saw your young team grow this season.

I was very impressed on our team this season. The growth from the first game to the last was outstanding. I’m especially impressed with the freshmen. All of them have never played at that competitive of level before and they really held their own. Especially Brianna Murelli, who really improved an astounding amount and, in every game, she gave it her all.

Talk about what it's like being a Raider and being part of the THS community.

Being a Raider means so much to me. Being able to walk on that field showing everyone that I am a Raider. And showing everyone that we don’t give up in troubled times. Being able to attend Torrington High School gives me immense pride. This school and the community surrounding it has given me so much in the last three years. Everyone is always extremely supportive and they always make sure to lift your spirits when something isn’t going your way. 

Do you have a favorite pro sports team?

Manchester United has to be my favorite pro team 

What do you see yourself doing in 10-years?

In ten years, I hopefully have a job at a high school teaching physical education and health. Then on the weekends and after school coaching either a college, high school, or club soccer team. I really want soccer to be in my life as long as it can and even if I can’t play it, coaching would be the next best thing 

I want to give a lot of credit to my family. Especially my mom and dad who sacrificed lots of money and time to help me do the things I love. They have supported me through every activity and sport I’ve done throughout the years. Also, my coaches have been a huge part, my Premier coaches Leszek Wrona, Matt, and Kamil and Mario; they’ve all made me realize why I really love the sport I play.

Payton Graham

Torrington Girls Soccer

Junior Defender #3

How long have you been playing sports and which ones have you played?

I have been playing sports for as long as I can remember, and probably even before that. I started out with softball (t-ball, really) basketball, and soccer, and later tried my hand at swim and dive, but soccer was quick to become my favorite.

When did soccer become the one? 

Soccer was constantly continuous in my life from the very second, I started playing the game, but I became really serious about it around seventh grade.

You play defense for the most part for THS. What is your favorite position?

I play defense for Premier, and I’m a center-back at heart, but the glory of striker or attacking-mid is always fun too.

You and Abby are the backbone of the team. How long have you been playing together? 

Whew. Me and Ab have been playing together for as long as I can remember. From Mike Bolesh’s youth team in elementary school, all the way up to our days now in high school.

Talk about your goalie teammate. What makes her so good? 

She is just such a good goalkeeper. Whether it’s a diving save or a penalty kick save, she's always there to stop the ball, and make a fantastic save. She has great instincts for the game, and clearly applies her knowledge to every scenario or situation.

Tell me about your family and their support for you over the years. 

My family's support for me in the game is really unmatched (and is so appreciated). My parents show up for every single game, and no matter what I can hear my mom on the sidelines yelling and cheering (love you Mom). Almost all of my siblings have at some point been involved in the beautiful game and I think that really shows who we are.

What does it mean to you to be a Raider?

For me, being a Raider is so much more than a name. Our values may be Tradition, Honor, and Success, but I think that as student athletes, we also represent strength of character, and recognize that we are a team and go have to through everything as one.

Talk about your sister, Nadia and what she means to you and your team going forward. 

Oh boy. That girl is a character. I honestly owe a lot to her and know that she will only get better. She was hesitant on playing this year just because she'd never played before, and it was something totally new. I respect her tenfold for simply trying (even though I kind of forced her), and I think that with a little more training and time, she could be a force to be reckoned with.

What are your future plans? 

As of right now, I have no clue what I want to major in, just because I have so many different interests. Yet I do plan on attending college, and hopefully playing soccer there as well.

Your team is still very young. What are your expectations for the 2020 team? 

I hope that we continue growing as a team, and for me, that doesn't necessarily mean winning more games. If we continue to work hard and learn everything we can, I interpret that as a win, and as the progress we will need to rise as a program.

Do you see the program moving forward and getting because of better numbers and Middle School Sports being back?

I do think that the return of Middle School Sports will help us a lot, just knowing that our girls will come in with the basics. I also think that bringing Middle School Sports back will help our numbers, which have not been the best in the past few years.

The incident with Derby was terrible. How has the program rallied around Allie?  

The situation with Derby was honestly surreal for me. I know that the girls were really supportive of Allie (we had a get together after it all happened, and there were so many caring group text messages), and that Coaches Mario and Tyler have been really helpful in securing her the help she needed.

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