New Britain Herald Athletes of the Week are Southington's John Griffin and Plainville's Krystyna Miller

Published on Monday, 9 October 2017 22:39
Written by DAVID GLOVACH

STAFF WRITER

A team’s success is more often than not, tied to the players it has out on the field.

Every team has players a coach relies on game in and game out to come up with big performances when need. That has turned out to be the case for a pair of soccer players, Southington’s John Griffin and Plainville’s Krystyna Miller, especially this past week.

After getting off to a slow start, the Blue Knights have played well as of late, winning both of last week’s matches and are now a win and a tie away from qualifying for the state tournament with a 3-4-2 record overall. And Griffin played a pivotal role in each.

“He’s really done everything we’ve asked of him,” Southington head coach Dave Yanosy said. “We had a returning all-conference player in Evan Doddona, who was expecting to have a great senior season and drawing Division I interest, who we lost in the second game of the season. You have to give John credit. He’s stepped right in and has really done a nice job.”

As the season has progressed, the junior goalkeeper has continued to get better. Griffin saved seven shots in a 2-1 win over Northwest Catholic last Monday and then six shots to preserve a 2-0 shutout victory over Bristol Eastern on Friday, his second of the season.

“I’ve definitely gained a lot more confidence with more games under my belt,” Griffin said. “I felt we played well in the last two games. Coming in against some of the best teams in the state was tough. But after the shaky start, we’ve kind of settled in.”

But along with the help he receives from Daddona, who has shifted to center-back due to his broken hand, as well as his other teammates and coaches, what has been Griffin’s best asset, according to his head coach is the goalkeeper’s willingness to put in the extra time need.

“I know it sounds cliché, but John is usually the first one at practice and the last one to leave,” Yanosy said. “He is fielding shots before practice and after practice. He’s putting in that extra work. He’s a kid that’s gotten tremendously better every year. He was pretty raw as a freshman. With this experience, he’s only going to get better.”

That work ethic, Griffin said, was something he learned while playing baseball when he was younger and has only benefited him as a result.

“I love working hard at practice, whether it’s taking extra shots, diving for ball,” Griffin said. “My father influenced me a lot. Playing baseball growing up, I always showed up 10, 20 minutes early to games or practices and I take that same approach in soccer.”

And with another season still to go, Griffin could be tough for opponents for a while yet.

At 4-5 on the season, the Plainville girls soccer team has already tied its win total for last year and a big reason why has been the play of Miller and what she brings to the Blue Devils’ offense from the striker position.

“She’s been working extremely hard all summer long with the practices and the summer league,” Plainville head coach Leszek Wrona said. “And slowly, little by little, she’s found that finishing touch. Her shot is much stronger than some of the other girls. She’s very mature, she’s very mature, quick and she listens.”

Although just a freshman, Miller has played like a veteran on the pitch thus far, scoring seven goals in her team’s wins, including a three-goal performance last Tuesday against Windsor. All three came in the first half in what ended up as a 3-0 victory.

In other words, she has become one of the team’s go-to players.

“My teammates were able to pass me the ball when I was one-on-one and I was able to score the first two times,” Miller said. “And the third goal was from a corner [kick] and the kick came to me. It was wide open, there was no goalie.”

Playing at the varsity level is difficult in any sport, so there are some learning curves along the way even if there aren’t many for a player like Miller.

“Learning how to play forward,” said Miller of the most difficult part of soccer. “Other teams are physical and trying to get through [the defense], they like to push. It was hard. But when teams do try to push me, I pass.”

And Wrona believes as good as the striker has Miller has been, she is only going to get better. She has the skill to do so.

“She has great determination. She has good skill, a good start, a good finish and aggressiveness. That’s what you except from a striker. She’s also a very smart and clever player. She knows when to go, when to dribble, when to pass. She’s a strong power forward. If she continues to work the way she’s works now, her future is very bright.”

That only serves to be a problem for other teams not only for the rest of this season, but in the years to come as well.

David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or dglovach@newbritainherald.com

On Twitter: @DavidGlovach



Posted in New Britain Herald, Athletes of the Week, General Sports, Plainville, Southington on Monday, 9 October 2017 22:39. Updated: Monday, 9 October 2017 22:41.