Katie Schoepfer never lost an Eastern Connecticut Conference girls’ soccer championship during her career at Waterford High School.
She was a high school All-American, as well as earning All-America honors at Penn State and being named the Big Ten Conference Offensive Player of the Year. Now, yeah, she’s a professional athlete, playing for the Boston Breakers of Women’s Professional Soccer.
So it’s been interesting to hear how Schoepfer has inspired this year’s Waterford team as an assistant coach. The Lancers, not surprisingly with Schoepfer on the sideline, won the ECC Large Division title and play tonight for the league tournament championship against Bacon Academy.
“It’s just like, you want her to be proud,” said Waterford sophomore Melina Spanos (who made everyone who ever wore blue and white proud with a game-winning goal in the ECC semifinals with 46.5 seconds remaining in double overtime).
“You want to show her you will work for her.”
Schoepfer, wearing a Breakers jacket Wednesday night on the sideline, is a volunteer for coach Rob Brule, who occasionally buys her dinner in return.
Brule said it was Schoepfer, The Day’s four-time All-Area Girls’ Soccer Player of the Year with 147 career goals, who helped incorporate the team ideal of making choices.
“I think we did the simple things,” Brule said of going through a season in which he lost star goalie Emily Diana and All-New England forward Julie Lavoie to graduation, “trying to outwork people. We started to make choices each and every moment. It’s a choice. You decide whether you’re going to win the 50-50 ball.”
For Schoepfer, now 23, it’s been a different experience.
“It’s hard not being able to do everything for them,” said Schoepfer, who does practice with the team, though. “But when they do something great, it’s nice knowing you had a small role, that maybe they took a few pieces of something I said. I was there once.”
Fifth-seeded Waterford (12-4-2) plays No. 6 Bacon (9-3-3) at 4:30 p.m. today (Friday) at New London High School, followed by the boys’ championship game between No. 1 Norwich Free Academy and No. 2 Montville at 6:30 p.m.