Old Lyme's Mya Johnson will keep it local, play for Conn College women's soccer team
East Lyme — In a video earlier this week on theday.com, Old Lyme High School's Mya Johnson detailed her small-town pride, the reason she's never considered leaving for another girls' soccer program where she might have had a better opportunity to market what most believe is Division I talent.
“I think a lot of the times with a talented athlete, it's kind of like, 'Why are you going to such a small school?'” Johnson said in the video. “I think that's what makes Old Lyme so amazing is that it's just such a small school and just such a home community.
“Everyone around is so sweet. It's just a comfort zone.”
It was for those same reasons that Johnson, a senior forward, announced this week she will play beginning next season at Connecticut College.
Conn, a Division III program coached by Norm Riker — whose daughter played at East Lyme and formerly opposed Johnson — will get a player in Johnson who dreamed growing up that she would someday be a Division I star and worked to put herself in position to achieve that goal.
Johnson was an all-state and All-New England selection last season after scoring 33 goals, including the game-winner in overtime of the state championship game, and her name is being bandied about this year for All-America honors.
She is Old Lyme's all-time leading scorer with 82 career goals, the 82nd coming on a penalty kick in Old Lyme's season-opening 3-2 win Saturday night at East Lyme, and The Day's two-time All-Area Player of the Year.
She has led Old Lyme to three consecutive state titles, one for every year of her career, and is attempting to tack on a fourth with not only her talent, but her leadership.
But when it came to playing Division I soccer, Johnson has made it clear, at least recently, that it was no longer her goal.
“I didn't want that job,” Johnson said Saturday. “I love soccer how it is. I love this. … I'm so beyond excited (to play at Conn). I'm a big homebody. I love my mom and dad (Lori and Rick). I can't imagine not having them at every single one of my games.”
“Mya could play anywhere she wanted,” Old Lyme coach Paul Gleason said. “Getting a great education at one of the more prestigious colleges is a great choice and I could go watch her. … Her mother and Mya and her father are very close. For Mya to go away would be tough on Mya.”
Johnson, who was 13 years old when she began her career at Old Lyme, said playing for the close-knit program is what made her the player she is.
“I think that's what helped an athlete like me,” Johnson said in the video. “You lose a game, but at the end of the day, we're all still family here in Old Lyme.”