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Melanie Sachs led the Branford girls’ soccer squad as a captain in both her junior and senior seasons. A striker, Melanie has nine goals and six assists for the Hornets this year. (Photo courtesy of Melanie Sachs )
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Melanie Sachs has the type of personality that people naturally gravitate toward, and she uses it to bring the best out of everyone as a senior captain on the Branford girls’ soccer squad. An outgoing person, Melanie established herself as a vocal presence on the field in her freshman year and has continued to take on a bigger leadership role with each passing season.
Melanie’s positive personality was one of the biggest reasons why she was named a captain for the Hornets as a junior last fall. Now a senior, Melanie not only led Branford as a captain once again this season—she also led the team to a berth in the Class L State Tournament.
“Being a captain is so rewarding. I hope that I’m pushing people to do their best, but at the same time, they’ve taught me so much, and I’ve learned a lot from them. I’m very thankful for this opportunity,” Melanie says. “On the field, I’m super vocal and talking the whole game. Off the field, I want to be an understanding person who my teammates are comfortable with. If there are any issues, we know we can handle them. Trust is the biggest thing.”
Melanie believes that her outgoing nature stems from being part of a big family that’s full of athletes. Melanie is one of six siblings who have either played sports or are currently playing sports in Branford. As a result, she’s learned how to speak up in order to make sure that her voice is heard.
“I’m the fourth of my siblings, and so I didn’t always have the first say. I had to work my way to the top, and the only way I could do that was if I expressed my opinion,” says Melanie. “Having that big family developed my character. I was around so many leaders and positive people at a young age, and it just kind of triggered onto the soccer field. My strongest component as an athlete is being a good leader.”
Melanie has played soccer with passion for many years. She started the sport when she was four and worked her way through the ranks in Branford before stepping on the varsity field as a freshman. Meanwhile, Melanie has also sharpened her skills by competing at the Premier level with the Connecticut Rush.
Melanie earned the job as Branford’s striker in her sophomore season and has been an offensive threat up top ever since. This year, Melanie has nine goals to go with six assists for the Hornets. A few weeks ago, she recorded a hat trick when Branford sealed its place in states by winning its regular-season finale.
Head Coach Jen Kohut says that Melanie has a nose for the goal and a great head on her shoulders that makes her an ideal leader.
“Melanie has a knack for scoring big goals. She just always seems to find herself in the right spot. Melanie is a clutch player and, when she’s on the field, she makes something happen for us,” Kohut says. “Melanie is positive person who just loves soccer and is always enthusiastic. She’s a gamer who wants to go out there and win for her team. She gets up for the game and gets everyone else up for the game. Melanie is a complete pleasure to be around and has left her mark on this program.”
Melanie displayed her ability to come through in the clutch by scoring two huge goals as a sophomore. On Senior Night that year, Branford hosted crosstown rival East Haven and earned a 1-0 win over the Yellowjackets after Melanie netted the lone goal of the game in the final minutes.
The Hornets went on to play in the Class L State Tournament, where they recorded a 2-1 upset at No. 5 seed Law in a first-round game that saw Melanie score both goals for Branford, including the game-winner in the second half. These performances were especially impressive since Melanie was still recovering from a sprained ankle that she had suffered earlier in the year.
“One of my favorite memories was Senior Night against East Haven. The seniors on the team were my best friends, and so it felt good to put the ball in the net and get a win for the seniors in their last home game. It meant so much for me to do that for them,” Melanie says. “Another big moment was when we played Law in our states game. It felt so exciting to make a mark for the team and the town by beating the No. 5 seed as an underdog. It was the coldest day of the year, and the rain was downpouring. It was something that I will never forget.”
Melanie received a big boost of confidence after helping Branford finish the 2017 season on a positive note. She says that stretch proved the turning point of her career. Melanie was pumped up to lead Branford as a junior captain last season and enjoyed the experience, although things didn’t go as planned for the Hornets, who came up one win short of making the State Tournament.
Melanie and her teammates came into the 2019 campaign determined to get Branford back in the Class L bracket. Needing to defeat Career-Hillhouse in their last game of the regular season, the Hornets claimed a 9-0 victory to make a triumphant return to states. Melanie posted the first hat trick of her career by scoring three goals in the win.
“It was nerve-racking knowing that this could be our last game, but I think knowing that we needed to win motivated everyone on the team to work our hardest. Everything that we had been focusing on and talking about all year had to come together, because this was our last shot,” says Melanie. “I was so proud of myself and my teammates. We put in so much work, and it meant a lot to us to finish the season that way and make our way into the tournament. It was exciting to accomplish that.”
Branford opened play in the Class L State Tournament this week. Regardless of how far the squad can advance in the draw, Melanie says that she will hold the friendships she’s formed with her fellow Hornets close to her heart long after her high school days are done.
“It’s the relationships you make along the way. The biggest thing I’ve taken out playing for Branford are the relationships I’ve made with coaches and teammates, who have all been so supportive. It’s been very rewarding,” Melanie says. “I love soccer more than anything. It’s been such an overwhelming experience, and I’m really just so thankful for it.”
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