Ava and TJ Machowski have helped lead both of RHAM High School’s soccer teams into the state tournament this fall. On the left, TJ and Ava are pictured at RHAM High School earlier this month and, on the right, Ava (four years old) and TJ (three years old) are pictured while playing soccer for the town of Marlborough in 2010.
RHAM High School has a set of siblings playing major roles for the school’s soccer programs this fall as Ava and TJ Machowski, a sister-brother duo from Marlborough, have the entire field covered.
Ava is the leading scorer for the girls teams that recently won eight straight games and TJ is the starting goalie for the a boys team that has held nine opponents scoreless this fall.
As of Wednesday, the two teams have a combined record of 19-5–5 with each team in line to host at least one game in the upcoming Class M tournaments, which begin in November.
“It’s nice that we both have something to feel happy about with our teams and something that we can be proud of,” said Ava, who is a year older than TJ.
Ava is in her final season at RHAM, starring as a senior striker that has racked up a team-high 22 goals and dished out a handful of assists.
Matt Cameron, the head coach of the girls soccer team at RHAM, stated that Ava’s work on and off the field is “exemplary” and that she “puts the team before herself and gives everything she has each day.”
“Ava is arguably the most coachable player, capable leader I’ve ever worked with,” added Cameron. “She sets the bar in terms of standards and pushes her teammates to be their best.”
Behind Ava’s production, which includes a four-goal performance against Platt, the Raptors used an eight-game winning streak that spanned Sept. 23 - Oct. 13 to solidify a spot in the state tournament.
“I think we’ve all clicked really nicely; we’re all very close,” Ava said of the team featuring eight seniors. “We keep it serious on the field and keep any drama off the field.”
TJ, a junior, took over as the starting goalie for a Raptors team that has been consistent throughout the season and finished undefeated (5-0-1) in the CCC - East Region.
RHAM boys soccer assistant coach Tim Berry, who works with the keepers, said TJ brings an “infectious energy” and “positivity” to the team.
“He’s extremely coachable and immediately applies feedback,” added Berry. “He’s a physical presence in net and reads his position well.”
TJ credits the chemistry with his defensive mates in front of him for the success this fall.
“The defensive backline is really good and we work together,” the first-year starting goalie said. “We play from our defense to offense and it just kind of flows – that’s how we’ve been winning these games.”
When they are not helping their respective high school teams in the fall, the siblings are playing club soccer in the offseason with Ava playing for Oakwood Soccer Club and TJ playing for Connecticut Football Club (CFC).
Their love of soccer stems from their father Todd Machowski, who played collegiate soccer at Keene State and is a graduate of RHAM High School — as if their mom, Corinne Machowski.
With the encouragement of their parents, the two started playing at an early age with Ava having a knack for making plays in the field and TJ finding his calling as a protector of the net.
Their position choices are ideal for practicing together as Ava said “it’s beneficial” having a brother she can practice taking shots against at home.
TJ added that the two aren’t necessarily competitive with one another, yet they “push each other” to be better.
“If I take a bad shot he’s not afraid to tell me or if he misses a save I won’t go easy on him,” Ava said with a smile, “We know we can make each other better.”
When the two are not playing in opposing venues, they attend each other’s games and noted that their time away from the fields are still filled with soccer, whether it’s talking about it at home or traveling for club soccer.
“It’s always a game or something,” added Ava.
With her final season at RHAM winding down, Ava noted that she is feeling a “little nostalgic”, yet is ready to see how the final month plays out.
“It’s coming to close a lot faster than I thought it would, but I’m excited to see far we can get in tournament,” she added.
Ava and her team play their regular season home finale this Saturday, Oct. 28 when they welcome South Windsor to RHAM for a match at 9 a.m.
TJ and the boys wrapped up their regular season home schedule with a 2-0 win over Middletown on Tuesday. For the ninth time this fall, TJ kept the net clean.
Now that it’s tourney time, the Machowski siblings have a chance to further leave their collective mark on the local soccer fields.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin