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10/02/2023 03:19 PM

Hornets Girls’ Soccer Looking to Swarm to Next Level of Success

The Branford girls’ soccer team is on the fast track to another pair of postseason berths, thanks to a 3-3 start to its 2023 campaign. Photo courtesy of Jen Kohut
The Hornets girls’ soccer squad has huddled itself together and gotten off on the right foot with respect to its 2023 season through the first month of action. Photo courtesy of Jen Kohut

With its collection of veterans, combined with its experience playing in the high-stakes environment of postseason matchups, the Branford girls’ soccer team knows the time is now, while hot, to strike towards championship glory.

A year ago, Head Coach Jen Kohut and Branford produced a proficient regular-season record of 12-4, also taking home the SCC Housatonic Division with a perfect 8-0 mark in divisional contests. As the No. 4 seed in the SCC Tournament, Branford first bested No. 5 Sheehan, 3-2, in the quarterfinals on Oct. 29 before bowing out 4-0 in the semifinals to top-seeded and eventual winner Cheshire on Nov. 1.

Then, in the Class L State Tournament, No. 8 seed Branford started the state draw by blanking No. 25 North Haven, 6-0, in the opening round on Nov. 8. Two days later, the Hornets hosted No. 9 seed Bethel for a second-round game and took a 2-1 defeat, after losing by a 5-3 difference on penalty kicks, to yield Branford a 14-6 overall record for the 2022 slate.

Thus far in 2023, Kohut’s club has performed its way to a 3-3 record. Now having gone on two respectable postseason tournament runs with at least a win in each draw, the Hornets are no longer content on simply being a postseason party participant–they want to be the guest of honor, hoisting championship plaques when the final horn sounds.

“The goals for the team on and off the field this year are to qualify for both the SCC and state tournaments,” said Kohut. “And we also want to strive to win them.”

Branford boasts sensational senior captains at every tier of the turf. Emma O’Connor is a center back, who is fresh off an All-State Team berth as a junior and is rehabbing an injury. Forward Tess Ferrie is in the hunt for being the all-time leading scorer in the program’s history, and Sophia Mioline has returned as a defender in the back field this season.

“The captains all bring leadership, drive, and attention to detail to the position of being a captain,” said Kohut. “They have all been starters since their freshman year. Emma suffered an injury in the spring. which is keeping her off the field this season. She has shown great strength and fortitude during her recovery.”

Elsewhere, Brenna Murphy on defense, midfielder Maddie Resendes, midfield newcomer Raiyn Fries, Paige Selander, and Chayse Gueco round out the senior class. In addition, junior Bryce Infantino is doubling down and playing both forward and midfield for the Hornets. She has notched seven goals and two assists in only the opening trio of games.

“Maddie is a fierce competitor who plays in the midfield. She controls the game and has a very powerful shot,” said Kohut. “Brenna Murphy has stepped into a defensive role this year, and is a team player who can both score and shut people down defensively. Raiyn Fries moves to a center midfield position this year and has made quite an impact.”

Kohut circled crucial clashes within the SCC against powerhouses and rivals of Cheshire (on the road on Friday, Oct. 20 with a 6 p.m. start) and Guilford (at home on Thursday, Oct. 5 at 6:30 p.m.). This class and crop of competitors is quite decorated in terms of the collective number of victories they have been privy to, and so Kohut could think of no better way to send them off than to be on top as league and state champions.

“We are looking to go deep into the tournaments this season,” said Kohut. “This talented group of players have been playing together since they were little, and they have made a huge impact on the program and look to make some noise this season. They have won 34 games in their three years.”

Kohut, in her 26th season as head coach, is assisted on the sidelines this season by first-year assistants Taylor Moore and former Hornets’ captain Taylor Brown.

The 2023 Branford girls’ soccer team roster is comprised of seniors Ferrie, Murphy, O’Connor, Fries, Gueco, Resendes, Mioline, Selander; juniors Charlotte Green, Infantino, Glorianna Buckley, Katherine Harmon, MacKenzie Nguyen; sophomores of Dylan Hall, Ava Gamberdella, Giuliana Barros, Saige Fries, Maylin Zuniga, Clara d’Amuri; and freshmen Hayden Infantino, Marin Roussat, Stella Herzog, Chinonyerem Obi, Madelaine Aguilar, and Isabella Palmer.

2023 Branford Girls’ Soccer Regular Season Results and Schedule

Sept. 7: Branford 9, Amistad 0

Sept. 12: Guilford 3, Branford 2

Sept. 15: Branford 4, Foran 0

Sept. 19: Branford 7, Hamden 0

Sept. 21: Sacred Heart Academy 2, Branford 1

Sept. 26: Cheshire 2, Branford 0

Monday, Oct. 2: at Amistad at 3:45 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 5: vs. Guilford at 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 10: at Foran at 5:30 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 13: at Hamden at 5 p.m.

Monday, Oct. 16: vs. Sacred Heart Academy at 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Oct. 18: vs. Cross at 6:30 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 20: at Cheshire at 6 p.m.

Monday, Oct. 23: at Amity at 6 p.m.

Wednesday, Oct. 25: at Cross at 4:30 p.m.