There are certain teams that capture the imagination, blending talent with unique qualities to make lasting memories.
The Westhill High School girls soccer team is a perfect example.
The Vikings made history tonight, winning the first state title by a Stamford school in the sport with a dramatic 2-1 win over top-seeded and unbeaten Glastonbury. After being on the defensive almost the entire night, Westhill was able to string four passes together, resulting in Tessa Dunster setting up Penny Cote for the deciding score with just 36 seconds left.
The Westhill players talk often of themselves as a family. It is a trite cliche in most instances, but this team really has operated as a family.
The high school teams that have had the greatest impact on me were made memorable not just by the skill on the field, but the quality of the people off of it.
And having covered this wondrous story for the past two months, I can unequivocally state that this Westhill team has great players that are even better people.
Thus, it seemed the perfect bookend to Cote’s heroics that, as I walked off the West Haven field tonight and headed to my car, Clare Mahoney, the Vikings’ dogged center back, broke from a pack of celebrating teammates and jogged toward me.
“I just wanted to say thanks. Thanks for the nice words you wrote about me the other day,” Mahoney said, referring to my story on Westhill’s semifinal win over Ridgefield.
It was an act fitting of Mahoney, and one that could have been done by any other member of the team.
It was the kind of act representative of what has made this Westhill team so special and fun to cover.
And a reminder of what makes these Vikings true champions.