NHS girls soccer coach Adam Wilkinson earned his 100th career win. Pictured with senior captains (l-r) Marlie Zocco, Alyse Karanian, Giuliana Stolfi, Karissa Zocco, and Michelle Novikova
Adam Wilkinson, the head coach for Newington girls’ soccer, reached the 100-win plateau after the Nor'easters defeated Lewis Mill 3-0 on Oct 12.
The milestone victory capped a bizarre day for Wilkinson and the team.
“It was weird because I had a big grand plan but then I kind of forgot about it,” said Wilkinson, “When we went to Lewis Mills, we forgot soccer balls and we were all over the place. Then we beat Lewis Mills and I remembered once [the players] poured ice-cold water over me after the game. Thankfully it was a nice warm day.”
Following the win, Wilkinson received a text from former all-conference player Lindsey Fairbank, who was a freshman during Wilkinson’s first season at NHS in 2013.
“She said congrats on 100 and ‘I’m going to give myself a big pat on the back because I got you your first 50’,” Wilkinson said of the message from the 2017-graduate, “They won 50 in the first four years.”
Wilkinson added that he remembers the tough losses more than most wins but he did recall upsetting a powerhouse Northwest Catholic team in 2014 and said his most memorable win was a 1-0 upset of a higher-seeded Amity team in the Class LL tournament during Newington’s quarterfinals run in 2016.
For victory #100, Wilkinson had a balanced scoring attack as Michelle Novikova, Ella Stair and freshman Kaitlyn Gallinoto each found the back of the net.
Novikova is one of Wilkinson’s five captains.
“It made us really happy,” said Novikova. “Near the end of the game we were holding signs for his 100th win and even though he said he didn’t want the attention, he loves the attention. It was a good bonding moment for all of us and well deserved.”
Senior captain Marlie Zocco added, “It was really exciting, especially because it is our senior year, so it was nice that he got our 100th win with us. That game we worked really hard as a team.”
Zocco’s twin sister, Karissa, said the team bonded during last year’s COVID-shortened season, “We had to make the best of the season because it was obviously nothing like we were used to. This year we were all really excited to play different towns. We’ve all just had a really good time this year.”
The team’s strength this season is in the backend, where the Zocco twins are captaining a defensive unit along with Giuliana Stolfi.
Wilkinson called the defensive end “the spine” of the team.
“We’ve all been playing with each other for five years and during the preseason we got really close,” said Stolfi. “We got our team dynamic down before the season started, so that really helped us.”
The fifth captain is Alyse Karanian, who plays midfield.
“The five of us have known each other a long time. We are used to working together and having that team mindset. We’ve had a lot of really tough games, especially Southington, Glastonbury, Farmington and those are usually teams that are scoring tons of goals but our defense has been able to work together,” said Karanian. “We knew at some point this season he would get his 100th win and he has coached us for four years and you really get to know people and their success is your success. We wanted to be that team that is remembered for Adam’s 100th win.”
The five seniors, along with senior goalie Bri Norton, celebrated Senior Night last Wednesday with a 2-1 victory over Rocky Hill. Novikova scored both goals in the celebratory win.
“They know my system,” Wilkinson said of his seniors. “As much as I like to work on offensive stuff in practice, I am a defensive-minded coach. I was a defensive player, so it kind of transfers over.”
They finished last week with a 4-0 win at Windsor, improving to 8-1-3 and officially securing a spot in the state tourney.
The team is currently in the middle of a three-game home stand to finish the regular season. They host RHAM this Friday (Oct. 29) at 3:45 and close the regular season against neighboring Wethersfield on Monday, Nov 2 at 6 p.m.
Wilkinson and his team defeated the Eagles (2-1) at WHS in early October and the rematch will have a little extra meaning. Adam Wilkinson’s daughter, Wethersfield senior Cam Wilkinson, will be playing after missing the first game with an injury
“I always have that one circle because of the rivalry, but also because family-wise,” said Wilkinson, who also has a younger daughter Brynn, a freshman player at WHS.
Cam Wilkinson said she congratulated her father on his 100th victory, adding, “Better to have gotten the 100th against Lewis Mill than me.”
Cam added that the family feud will be extra special, “I’ve got my dad and a bunch of CFC teammates on the Newington side, so I’m looking forward to a victory and the bragging rights that come with it. And hopefully I’ll get that goal against my dad that I’ve been looking to score the past 4 years.”
The Newington-verse-Wethersfield / father-verse-daughter match-up will take place at Alumni Field at NHS on Tuesday, Nov 2 at 6 p.m.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin