NORTH BRANFORD — North Branford senior midfielder Kelli Jacobson has used a combination of natural talent and hard work to be a dominating force on offense and defense for the Thunderbirds the past four seasons.
“Kelli Jacobson is indeed an outstanding player with a deep-rooted talent and passion for the game,” North Branford coach Babby Nuhn said. “Yes, she has talent. But she works on her game all the time, before practice, after practice, off-season, all the time. And on top of that, she is a great kid. She is a catalyst and has the keen ability to control our offense and defense from her center mid position.
“One of the many attributes about Kelli is her strong leadership. As a junior and now a senior captain, she walks the walk and encourages all of her teammates to bring it up a notch. She (has) six other talented senior leaders who share her excellence on the field. This senior class is the reason we are undefeated.”
Jacobson, who has committed to play field hockey at the University of New Haven, has showcased that combination in 2020 and is a big reason why the Thunderbirds ended 10-0, produced nine shutouts and outscored opponents 38-3.
“This season, I have been playing as though each game will be my last with North Branford,” said Jacobson, selected by GameTimeCT.com as one of 25 preseason field hockey players to watch,. “My team has definitely felt the effects of COVID-19, with being previously quarantined due to positive cases. But when we came back, we realized nothing should be taken for granted, not even school.
“North Branford has always had a large fan base, so this year with limited fans and none at away games it is very different. My teammates have rallied together to make up for it. The players on the sidelines are continually cheering and compensating for the lost noise. Everyone playing is always pushing and encouraging each other.”
Jacobson has scored and/or assisted in every game this season.
“Kelli goes end line to end line with her desire to maintain possession and set up scoring opportunities while thwarting her opponents from scoring,” Nuhn said. “She had a hat trick against Westbrook (all three on corners).”
Overall, Jacobson said the season has been going well.
“This year our team has been utilizing film and zoom meetings to make up for missed days and modified chalk talks,” Jacobson said. “This has really helped every player to realize what they need to improve upon and how as a team, we can become better.”
Nuhn said Jacobson has been complemented and suported by a deep group of players on defense with seniors Sofia Votto in net (nine shutouts), Gabby Gibilisco (left defense), Emma Serenson (right defense), Amanda Nuzzo (left mid), Aly Kendrick (center mid) and on offense with captain Sophia Anastasio.
“These seven seniors are the heart and soul of the team,” Nuhn said. “We also have a talented junior class with Olivia Toto (left wing, leading scorer in the Shoreline Conference), Mia Oliverio (right wing), Braeden LeBeau and a rising freshman, Lindsey Onofrio, in the right mid position.
“Like Kelli, they all work hard and contribute in what has been a team effort this season.”