By John Nestor
WEST HARTFORD – Some things have changed for the Northwest Catholic girls soccer team, while others have definitely remained the same.
Off to a solid start, the Indians are once again the big game on everyone’s schedule while they themselves have their sights set on an even bigger prize than the last few seasons.
The fact that Northwest Catholic is going to get everyone’s best effort just comes with the territory when you have had as much success as coach Todd Sadler and his club have had lately. When you are riding a 46-game unbeaten streak (42-0-4) and have won three of the last four Class M state titles, including the last two, everyone starts waiting for you and the NWC game is circled on everyone’s schedule.
That happened Friday when Northwest Catholic went to Simsbury and came away with a 1-1 draw. Simsbury took the lead about a minute in and NWC equalized in the first half, but couldn’t find a winning tally. It was better than a loss but still left a bit of a bitter taste in the mouths of the Indians.
“We are a little disappointed with the result Friday but Simsbury played great,” Sadler said. “It’s always tough to play on the road, anything can happen. Everyone is fired up to play us and they scored a minute in. On the flip side we could have reacted differently but we started to play better.”
The tie with Simsbury and another with West Hartford rival Hall (0-0 on Tuesday), extended NWC’s unbeaten streak, but it is not something the Indians discuss often. It’s there and hanging over the season but not a daily topic of conversation. In fact it might do more for the competition than for the Indians.
“I know they are proud of it and want to keep it going, Sadler said. “I like the fact that they care and want to go out there and get results. It might be something other teams we play talk about more, everybody wanting to be the team that ends it.”
The Indians have 10 more regular season games to go, the next being Friday when they host New Britain. Wether or not they have a streak in the mid-50s remains to be seen, regardless they will be moving on toward a bigger goal.
After dispatching all comers in two-straight Class M tournaments, Northwest Catholic was ready for a new challenge and Sadler was looking into wether the Indians could move up to Class L. It appeared that any move wouldn’t be able to happen until next season until the CIAC stepped in and made some changes into how teams are ranked and in what Class.
A move up to L was replaced by the Indians being thrown into the Class LL mix.
“We just have to roll with it. We know it will be hard so let’s go out and see if we can do it,” Sadler said.
The move offers the chance for some enticing matchups come tournament time. St. Joseph, who NWC knocked out of the last two Class M tournaments is in Class L while Hall, Glastonbury, Suffield, Newtown and Staples should all be factors.
“We enter the season with goals and now winning the LL title is a goal too,” Sadler said. “We are going to go in there hoping we can win it and try to go in peaking and playing our best soccer like we have at the end of the last couple seasons.”
In the meantime the Indians have plenty of tough CCC games to focus on. Simsbury and Hall are both on the schedule down the road as are Glastonbury and Farmington. The tough schedule will present some challenges, but also help the Indians in the long run.
“When we moved to the CCC it was kind of like us moving up to LL, hearing how hard it is going to be,” Sadler said. “It will be tough and we have a lot of tough games and they are almost all against LL schools. It will end up helping us be ready when the state tournament comes around.”
Also helping the Indians build up to tournament time are some talented players, including Michelle Medina, Nicky Medina, Madison Borowiec and Anna Cronin.
“Michelle is a senior captain and has picked up the scoring load for us and Nicky has been strong in the midfield, sets things up and is a worker,” Sadler said. “Madison has been great in the midfield for us and Anna started a freshman last season and has stepped into the center back role as a sophomore.
All four of them return from a title team and we lean on them when things aren’t going well.”
It’s not often that things don’t go well for the Indians, but they did lose some talent from last season’s squad and are still early in the season as far as forging a new identity. But Sadler likes this group and wouldn’t have things any other way, challenges and all.
“I like that we have a bullseye on us,” he said. “Teams get up for us and we are going to be challenged but it all comes from us doing really well for ourselves.”