Following an all-state senior season, Bacon Academy’s 2022 graduate Aidan McLaughlin will continue to play soccer at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Massachusetts.
McLaughlin, who will major in mechanical engineering, said that competing athletically at the next level was a bonus and that he chose his next destination on academics first.
“My junior year, my mom and I sat down and looked at what colleges have good engineering programs and good architectural programs,” recalled McLaughlin. “WPI was on the top of that list.”
Since he could remember, McLaughlin was either engineering something or had a soccer ball at his feet.
The two hobbies have consumed him for a better portion of his early life and McLaughlin said that when he wasn't practicing or playing soccer, he was spending his free time figuring out how thing work or drawing sketches.
It was during his junior year that he figured out that he’d potentially be able to do both at the next level, saying that playing soccer for four more years at a place like WPI was a “dream come true.”
Bacon Academy boys’ soccer head coach Skip Starks called McLaughlin a “coach’s dream” who was a great leader and praised his team captain for being the ultimate scholar-athlete.
After missing his freshman season in high school due to a broken leg, McLaughlin returned from his rehab to post a trio of productive seasons.
During his three years as a starter, he shined as a defender yet his coach said he would have thrived anywhere on the field.
“He was a top defender in the state but he could have played any position,” Starks said of his versatile star. “His on-the-field IQ set him apart. Not to mention his speed, foot skills, his demeanor, and he had the perfect attitude.”
McLaughlin’s senior season at Bacon set the stage for an easy transition to WPI.
The Bobcats won 11 regular season games and then a pair of tournament contests, including a memorable victory over Weston, winning on penalty kicks, in the second round of the Class M tourney.
“I liked how we all came together and stuck it out,” recalled McLaughlin, who said the resiliency the team showed in the game was a reflection of the entire season.
Along with making all-state, McLaughlin made first-team All-Eastern Connecticut Conference (ECC) and was an ECC Sportsmanship Award winner. He was also honored as a Connecticut Coaches Associations Scholar-Athlete, was selected to the Senior Bowl, and was one of 54 players nationwide that were named by the US Soccer Coaches Association as All-Americans.
“It was amazing,” McLaughlin said of his senior year.
McLaughlin’s older brother, Liam McLaughlin, was an all-state soccer player at Bacon Academy in 2015 and 2016 before graduating in 2017 and playing collegiately at King’s College in New York.
After seeing his older brother’s success, the younger McLaughlin made it a goal of his to follow in his all-state footsteps while at Bacon.
At WPI, he’ll join a team led by Brian Kelly, who is entering his 10th season as the team’s head coach and 14th year overall with the program. Kelly has won nearly 70% of his games since taking over as the head coach, along with guiding the Engineers to a share of the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) regular season title in 2019 as the program won their first NCAA tournament game in 43 years.
“He went to the school for all the right reasons. He’s a top student and that is one of the top engineering schools in the country,” added Starks, who is entering his sixth season with the Bobcats. “He’s going to make somebody proud and do something special. He’s just one of those kids.”
McLaughlin, who was born and raised in Colchester, said leaving behind his home base will be tough, but he added that the freedom to focus his energy on his passions is appealing.
“The things that I really like in my life are the things I’m going to be doing,” he added. “I’m looking forward to representing a school at a high level.”
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin