Sports Person of the Week
Pycela Knows All About Scoring Goals
Junior Emily Pycela made the All-SCC Division B Team for the East Haven girls’ soccer squad after scoring 11 goals during the 2020 season. (Photo courtesy of Emily Pycela )
Emily Pycela says that there is no better feeling than scoring a goal. It’s something that Emily did 11 times this year as a member of the East Haven girls’ soccer team.
Emily is a junior who plays forward for the Yellowjackets. With her 11 goals on the season, Emily how has 25 goals for her career. Emily’s offensive prowess earned her a spot on the All-Southern Connecticut Conference Division B Team this fall.
“It’s the best feeling. Everybody comes running towards you. You did something to help the team,” Emily says of scoring a goal. “Every time I score, I look right to my mom, and I just think she is going to be really proud of me. It makes me feel really proud to know that I can contribute to the team.”
Emily was an instant contributor for the Easties as a freshman. In the first game of her career, Emily scored her first goal in a matchup against North Branford. Emily went on to start every game in her freshman year and wound up netting nine goals for the campaign.
“It was really nerve-wracking and exciting at the same time. I didn’t want to disappoint anybody,” says Emily. “In our first game I scored, and that’s when I knew I had it in me to keep doing it. It was really enjoyable.”
By Emily’s sophomore year, the cat was out of the bag about East Haven’s dynamic goal-scorer. Teams around the SCC started to pay more attention to Emily and would typically assign multiple defenders to try and contain her. Emily still had five goals that season and felt that she developed as both a facilitator and an all-around soccer player as a result of the experience.
Following her sophomore season, Emily starting putting in extra work with Head Coach Jake Hackett in order to improve her skills. Emily and Hackett would focus on individual matchups and develop game-plans based on who the Yellowjackets were playing. Emily continued to learn more about how to score goals and also create shot opportunities for her teammates.
Emily continued to improve during a junior season that saw her score a team-leading 11 goals for East Haven. By virtue of her performance, Emily was named to the All-SCC Division B Team alongside senior teammates Angelina Munoz and Bella Pilato.
“It means a lot to me. It feels good that people actually see what I’m doing and the work I put in,” Emily says. “Each year it’s something new, something better. I feel good about myself. It keeps me going for next year. It makes me want to keep pushing.”
Coach Hackett saw Emily’s potential when he put her in the starting lineup as a freshman. Over the past three years, he’s seen Emily continue to progress as a pivotal player in the Yellowjackets’ offense. With Emily still on his team for one more season, Hackett feels that she’s on a trajectory to become one of the greatest goal scorers in East Haven girls’ soccer history.
“Emily in an absolutely lethal player. She’s a natural goal scorer. There’s an art to that you can’t teach. She has a hunger to score goals,” says Hackett. “When you play East Haven, you’ve got to worry about this girl. She has a great goal tally to her name here at East Haven High School. I think she could be one of the top goal scorers this program has ever had.”
Emily’s journey through soccer began when she was five years old. She started playing with East Haven Youth Soccer and continued in that league up until high school.
Emily has spent her entire career competing for East Haven. Emily has had opportunities to play elsewhere, but says there’s no place that she’d rather be scoring goals than in her hometown.
“Playing for East Haven, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I could have went to other places, but I decided not to,” Emily says. “I grew up with all these girls. Playing with them and growing up with them just made it better each season, getting to know each other and bonding on the field.”
Emily will be looking to add more goals to her stat sheet in her senior season. She’s also aiming to be a leader who motivates the Yellowjackets’ younger athletes as the team tries to advance deeper in the playoffs. After she graduates from high school, Emily wants to play soccer at the college level.
Through the past three seasons, Emily has become a focal point of the attack for the East Haven girls’ soccer squad. While everyone on the Easties appreciates Emily’s goal-scoring abilities, she appreciates both them and the sport just as much.
“It means the world to me. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do since I was little. It’s like what makes me, me,” says Emily. “Every time I’m on the field, all my problems in my mind go away. I’m just focused on the sport.”