Sports Person of the Week
McGuire Helps Solidify the Tigers’ Defense
Junior Adelia McGuire helped the Hand girls’ soccer team lock things down on defense during the 2020 season. (Photo courtesy of Adelia McGuire )
Soccer has been Adelia McGuire’s go-to sport ever since she was four years old. While there were plenty of things up in the air for Adelia and her teammates on the Hand girls’ soccer squad this year, the junior helped the Tigers produce the latest in a long line of solid seasons with her performance on defense.
Like every team around the state, Hand had to deal with the challenge of playing through a pandemic this fall. The Tigers also had to transition to working with a new head coach when Hand graduate Rob McConville took the reins on the sidelines. Despite all the changes, Adelia and the Tigers put the doubts aside, trusted the process with McConville, and wound up finishing the year with a record of 5-4-3.
Adelia’s fondest memory of the season came when Hand earned a 1-0 victory versus crosstown rival Guilford—an opponent that the Tigers were unable to defeat in the first two meetings between the teams.
“My favorite moment from this season was the game we beat Guilford,” Adelia says. “We had played Guilford twice previously, both times on their turf. The first time they beat us, and the second time we tied. Playing them on our field under the lights was a crazy experience. Each and every one of us worked so hard. I’ll never forget the moment the buzzer went off, and we had officially won.”
Adelia describes McConville as an “amazing” coach, saying that he worked the Tigers hard, but also had a tremendous amount of faith in them. McConville, in turn, says that Adelia played a huge part in helping Hand play stout defense—something that was a point of emphasis in his first year as head coach.
“This year, we rebuilt our defense with the focus on bringing our goals-against average down. Adelia was a major part of that success,” says McConville. “Adelia reads the game very well and is able to anticipate things before they happen. As a coach, it was great to watch her confidence grow each game. She has all the tools to be one of the best defenders in the state next season.”
Adelia’s greatest appreciation for soccer stems from the teamwork that is needed to win games. Adelia has played soccer with many of the same girls throughout her career, and she’s grown close with all of them. Adelia feels that the tight-knit chemistry among the Tigers proved a key factor in their success this year and appreciates how she was able to contribute to the attack as a defender.
“My favorite aspect of the sport is the teamwork involved,” says Adelia, who also plays travel soccer for CT Rush. “I have been playing with most of the same group of girls for my entire life. This year, we really perfected working together. We move up and down the field as a unit and can anticipate every move each other will make. I loved playing right back, because it allowed me to get involved with the offense and generate goal-scoring opportunities.”
On the heels of a solid junior season, Adelia has her sights set on becoming an elite defender in the Southern Connecticut Conference next year. Adelia plans on putting in as much offseason work as it takes in order to accomplish that goal.
“As a defender, I am always looking to improve,” Adelia says. “Going into the season, I knew there were attackers that I would play who would be bigger than me. During the season, I trained every single day. I would go down to the turf with other girls on the team and run sprints and practice shooting. During the summer, preparing for the season, I would time myself running three miles, trying to improve my time each time I ran it.”
While Hand enjoyed another successful season this year, Adelia has major expectations about what the club can achieve next fall. Adelia will be looking to guide Hand to a state championship in 2021.
“My expectations for next year are high,” Adelia says. “Because of COVID, we finished the season missing many of our key players, which prevented us from showing our potential. Next year, I am more than certain that we will go home with the state title and will be the division champs. Next year, our starters will consist of juniors and seniors. We are ready to win.”