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    Monday, March 04, 2024

    Taylor made: NFA wins ECC Division I soccer title

    Norwich Free Academy’s Brooke Bolles, top, heads the ball over Stonington’s Gwendolyn McGugan during Thursday’s high school girls’ soccer game at Stonington. NFA won the game 3-0, breaking open a 0-0 tie at halftime, to clinch the ECC Division I title. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    NFA’s Hayleigh Young (19) fights for control of the ball in Thursday’s ECC Division I girls’ soccer game against Stonington. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    NFA’s Jordan Fabry, right, takes control of the ball against Stonington’s Gianna Terranova during Thursday’s girls’ soccer game. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Stonington — There were some nerves early Thursday night, not surprising when weighed against the possibilities for Norwich Free Academy. Not surprising with the Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I championship looming. But then not tolerated either by the NFA players.

    “We came out too soft,” NFA senior Jordan Fabry said, alluding to the scoreless tie at halftime against Stonington. “We talked it out on the side (of the field at halftime) and said, ‘if you’re not gonna play, get on the bench.’”

    The Wildcats followed with a textbook second half, earning a 3-0 win and the division title, punctuated with a postgame water bucket dousing of sixth-year coach Taylor Shannon. NFA wins the division with a 12-2-2 overall record, 5-1 in the division. East Lyme finished close behind with a league record of 4-1-1.

    “It’s been a while (12 years) since this program has done this,” Shannon said. “We’ve just tried to build a culture. A winning, competitive culture.”

    Chloe Green snapped a scoreless tie in the 47th minute before Brooke Bolles made it 2-0 eight minutes later. Fabry’s header in the 75th minute removed all doubt.

    “I think they were a little nervous early,” Shannon said. “Maybe off the bus, they had the mentality of ‘we got this’ and hadn’t competed for anything yet. Stonington (4-9-3, 0-5-1) really made us work for it. They proved they can compete in Division I. Jen (Stonington coach Jen Solomon) has done a really good job with them.”

    Shannon, who played at Waterford in her high school days, has discovered that in spite of NFA’s lofty enrollment numbers, the athletic numbers aren’t always there, underscoring the significance of Thursday’s accomplishment.

    “I thought that coming to NFA, I’d have to make cuts because we’d have so many players,” Shannon said. “I haven’t had to do that yet in six years. My first year as the head lacrosse coach, I’m asking the kids if they have friends who want to come play.”

    Except now Shannon is the coach of the new ECC Division I girls’ soccer champs.

    “This means a lot to all of us,” Fabry said. “We had a chance to win the division. It’s been a while.”

    m.dimauro@theday.com

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