SOUTHINGTON - Taylor Hubert entered Southington High School in 2013 as a quiet freshman, but immediately became a player the Blue Knights could build their girls soccer program around.
She started her first game as a freshman and never came off the bench in all her four years at SHS. She continued to build off her personal success year after year, ultimately leading the Blue Knights to the program’s first postseason win in a decade with a 1-0 shutout over Hall in the first round of the state tournament.
Her successes came full circle Wednesday afternoon, when she officially committed to play at Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass., which will allow her to play Division II soccer.
After a recruitment process that Hubert admitted was stressful, she narrowed it down to committing to Merrimack or Bentley University. She was originally waitlisted by Bentley, only being accepted days before the ceremony. But Merrimack had already won her over.
“I had gotten into the honors program, so I thought it was a good decision to go there,” Hubert said. “I had also done an overnight there and met the girls soccer team and I just loved how it was like a family environment, kind of like Southington High School’s soccer team. But when I did the overnight, they took me in and I already felt as though I was a part of the team.”
Southington head coach Mike Linehan, who started at Southington at the same time as Hubert, spoke highly of her. He highlighted her ability to play seemingly every position and also her leadership.
“She’s one of those where she’s the first to the field and the last off it,” Linehan said. “She comes to the game and gives you so many options. We’ve become a better program because of players like her. She has helped us bring the program to where it is not just by her performance on the field, but because of her talking with the others that have come after her.”
Linehan and Southington Athletic Director Gregory Ferry both stressed Hubert’s leadership and her role as a representative of Southington High School.
“Taylor has done wonderful things for us,” Ferry said. “She’s been a part of our leadership council and has really been a good role model for our young ladies here. I couldn’t be more proud of her. We talk about our core values here, and everthing that she exudes is in that quest for excellence.”
Linehan offered three simple words to describe Hubert as a player: dependable, versatile and flexible. She has experience playing at forward and outside back, but her strength is playing midfield, which is the position she was recruited to play at Merrimack.
Looking back, Hubert shared how one of her favorite memories with Southington was the 1-0 victory over Farmington in 2016. The win was their first over Farmington since Hubert started for the Lady Knights and it led to a new theme song for the team.
“That’s where our theme song, ‘Don’t Stop Believing,’ had come from, because we were listening to that song before the game and we ended up beating them, so that became our theme song.”
Even with her success and impact on the field, Hubert feels as though she has “come out of my shell” off the field.
“In middle school, I was kind of shy,” Hubert said. “But I worked my way up to being more confident and became captain and I wasn’t afraid to get out there, do my best and be a leader.”
Hubert will be studying accounting at Merrimack, which she hopes will be able to give her enough background to one day start her own clothing store.
Tyler Roaix can be reached at email@example.com