The Westhill High School girls soccer team became the first Stamford school to win a state title in the sport last November, a remarkable 2-1 upset of Glastonbury in the final on Penny Cote’s goal with 36 seconds left.
The wait for the last official milestone of the Vikings’ accomplishment did not take that long.
The players and coaches received their championship rings this afternoon after school, in a ceremony in the office of Westhill principal Camille Figluizzi, whose daughter, C.C., was an integral member of the team.
The rings were supposed to be distributed last Monday, until school was postponed for the week in the aftermath of the brutal storm that left thousands without power.
“It was totally worth the wait,” said forward Tessa Dunster, the junior who was the team’s leading scorer and made the pass that set up Cote’s clinching goal. “It put in perspective again that we were state champions.”
The rings, which were designed primarily by Cote and Sarah Hartford, one of the Vikings’ captains, have a purple stone in the center, with the words “2009 Class LL State Champions” around it. Each player’s name and uniform number are also on the ring. Inscribed inside is one word: “Family.”
“That is so we will always remember that we think of ourselves as a family,” said Meghan Caldwell, a senior midfielder and co-captain who is currently trying to decide where she plans to attend school next year, and whether she wants to continue her soccer career being part of the process. “We sat down for the first time basically since the end of the season today all together. “It made me feel like it happened again yesterday.”
The Vikings were the paradigm of the Cinderella team, a program on the upswing that arrived much sooner than anyone — including themselves — anticipated. Somehow it was fitting that the team got its prizes in the middle of March Madness.
Many of the Vikings have been playing indoors during the winter and are preparing for the start of the outdoor spring season. Some play on the same teams.
Last fall is never far from their minds.
“We talk about it all the time, especially driving to soccer practice,” Caldwell said. “How it was the best feeling in the world and what we wanted since we all started playing soccer.”
Asked what she remembered most about the season, Dunster said, “It was not just the championship, but the growth we had as a team and the respect that grew. It was not just teams saying we just have a game against Westhill. Teams had to start preparing for us.”
It took eight days, but the Westhill players now have the final keepsake of their accomplishment.
“We texted each other every day all last week waiting,” Caldwell said. “We were so excited to get the rings. It is the final thing to remember the season by. The final piece.”