The ending wasn’t what Shea Connors envisioned for the Wilbur Cross co-op girls soccer program, but it was one last chance to play with her teammates.
Cross fell 1-0 to Hamden Thursday at home, ending the team’s chances of qualifying for the Class LL state tournament. Cross finishes at 4-8-3.
But Shea Connors had quite the impressive season, finishing with 23 goals and three assists. And she did it while being marked tightly by the opposition.
“It’s really difficult when you have someone standing next to you for the entire game and sometimes two or three people,” Connors said. “And I felt pressure because I felt like if I didn’t score, we wouldn’t get on the board.”
But Connors, 17, did get on the board, multiple times. In fact, she scored five goals in a game — twice.
The first time came West Haven on Sept. 25, a 5-2 win. She had four goals in the second half. The second came on Oct. 8 at North Haven, a 5-4 victory.
“Usually when I would get two goals, I would try to get one more for the hat trick,” Connors said. “Against North Haven, they had 4 up on the scoreboard, so I thought I had four and that it ended in a 4-4 tie. Then someone told me I had scored five.”
Said Cross coach Nathaniel Bradshaw: “It was unbelievable. I have never seen anything like that before.”
Cross, which has the only girls soccer team in New Haven, had several injuries during the season, including to Keenan, which contributed to the team falling short of postseason play. Connors had to drop into the midfield at points during the year to help out.
It was her scoring ability at Cross and for her premier teams at Yankee United that helped Connors draw notice from Division I college programs. She said she was set to commit to South Florida, a school in the Amateur Athletic Conference, but the Bulls made a coaching change in the off-season before the 2013 campaign began.
“(The new coach) wanted to see me play (for my premier team) but that season had already ended (in the spring),” Connors said. ”So I would’ve had to wait until the winter (to make a decision).”
Connors wanted to make a decision sooner than that — and did. She has committed to Rutgers, another AAC school that will eventually move into the Big 10 Conference.
“Rutgers is a diverse school like Wilbur Cross is,” Connors said. “I wanted to go to a place near New York City. I was very picky about it. … I want to go into nursing and. Rutgers has a great nursing and health program.”
Bradshaw thinks Connors will do just fine at the next level.
“It was easy and great coaching Shea because we were on the same page,” Bradshaw said. “She knew the game, she loves playing the game and is also a team player. Shea also brings out the best in her teammates. Every coach would love to coach someone like Shea.”
Connors, Perez honored
Connors and Pablo Perez of West Haven won the Outstanding Female and Male Awards, respectively, from the Greater New Haven Soccer Officials Association. The duo will be honored at the soccer officials’ annual banquet on Nov. 3 at the Country House in East Haven.