Thursday, January 27, 2022

Sports Person of the Week

Girard’s a True Leader as a Keeper

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Senior Macey Girard is in her fourth year as the starting goalie for the Branford girls’ soccer squad and her second season as a team captain. Photo courtesy of Macey Girard

Senior Macey Girard is in her fourth year as the starting goalie for the Branford girls’ soccer squad and her second season as a team captain. (Photo courtesy of Macey Girard)

Macey Girard has been the starting varsity goalie for the Branford girls’ soccer team for the past four seasons. After earning All-SCC honors and being named a captain, Macey is looking to finish out her Hornets’ career strong before moving on to compete at the collegiate level.

Macey started playing soccer in Branford’s youth program at age three. Macey’s parents, Meredith and Tom, encouraged her to give the sport a shot. At first, Macey didn’t like the fact that so much of her time was going into soccer. However, by the time she was eight years old, Macey really began to enjoy playing the sport.

“I got frustrated with it, because it was taking up so much of my time. But I loved my team, and I loved that aspect of it,” says Macey. “After that period of time, where I wasn’t as excited about it, I realized it was the sport that kept me there. I never thought about quitting.”

Macey moved to the goalkeeper’s position at age eight and has stayed in the net ever since. As a goalie, Macey knows that it’s crucial for her to help lead the defense in front of her. While she might not be the one scoring the goals, Macey also understands that her role on offense is just as important as her contributions on defense.

“It’s definitely a very demanding position. You have to be the bad guy sometimes and tell everyone what’s going on to help them grow. You can see everything from the back of the field,” Macey says. “It’s a lot of pressure being the last line of defense. But I’ve had the mindset that it’s the first line of attack. The scoring doesn’t come from my feet, but it starts with me.”

Macey continued playing in Branford’s town league until age 11, when she joined CT Rush. Now a senior at Branford, Macey is still a member of the CT Rush team. Macey feels that getting so much soccer experience with two programs at an early age allowed for a smoother transition to the high school ranks.

In her first season with the Hornets, Macey promptly became the starting varsity goalie. Still, even with all of her previous experience, Macey learned a lot about what it takes to succeed as a varsity keeper during her freshman season.

“I was very tall going into my freshman year. My size made everyone think I was a lot more intimidating than I was,” says Macey. “Everything is definitely more challenging, and everyone is more aggressive. As a goalie, you have to position yourself right, so you don’t get hurt. That was my biggest focus as a freshman.”

In her junior year, Macey made the All-SCC Division B Team alongside teammates Kendall Infantino and Ava Ferrie by virtue of her performance in goal. There was no State Tournament last season, but Macey still helped Branford advance to the championship game of its SCC Division B Tournament. For Macey, earning All-SCC accolades showed her that her hard work had paid off.

“With the year that was thrown at us, being named All-SCC was really powerful. It was a reward,” Macey says. “Even though our season was different, being named All-SCC made it all come together. Me and Kendall sat back and could take a deep breath. We were rewarded for what we had been working for.”

In addition to being All-SCC recipients, Macey and Infantino were both named team captains for their junior seasons. They are now once again leading the Hornets as seniors. Macey has always considered herself a leader and loves helping the Hornets overcome any obstacle while holding the captain’s role.

“I’ve always been a really strong leader. Going into my junior year, I had to encourage the girls to do everything on their own. Them knowing me as a leader was really helpful to motivate them,” says Macey. “Kendall and I work super well together with decision making. Our team is really close-knit. Even though we’re captains, we’re still a part of this team. Everyone is so close.”

Head Coach Jen Kohut says that Macey has brought a “sense of stability” throughout the goalie’s four years with the program. Kohut adds that Macey is just as strong of a leader as she is a goalkeeper.

“Macey is always a player I can count on, on and off the field, to bring her best, get the most from her teammates, and always put the team first. She is a consummate team player and has led as a captain for two years,” says Kohut. “Macey is my go-to when I need to get something across to the team. She has been so important to not just the program, but to me, for the past four years.”

Macey is looking to continue playing soccer in college after she graduates from Branford. Macey has spoken to numerous Division III coaches as she tries to find the best fit for her. Wherever she ends up, Macey wants her soccer journey to go beyond high school and is excited about playing at the next level.

From Little Kicks to the Hornets, Macey has made constant progress on the pitch and come to love the sport more with each passing season. Macey always feels honored to put on her Branford uniform and represent her hometown between the pipes.

“It’s really powerful being a soccer player. Playing for your town gives you the excitement that you don’t really get with a club team,” Macey says. “Being on a team with all girls you go to school with and have known since you were little is really powerful.”

 


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