Fall sports are still in the very early stages of play, but itâ€™s always important to get out to a fast start and set the tone for the rest of the year.
Two area athletes have begun their seasons in stellar fashion, leading their teams to perfect records through the first two weeks of play, and will be counted on heavily as the rest of the year unfolds, given that both are leading teams with high expectations for when the postseason rolls around.
Newingtonâ€™s Olivia Mullings and Nick Pestrichello are our Athletes of the Week for playing in midseason form in a season that is still incredibly young.
The Newington girls soccer team is off to a scorching 3-0 start entering the new week, having outscored its opponents by a combined score of 15-1. The overwhelming offensive attack has been led by the junior Mullings, who has been one of the top goal scorers in the area since coming off a stellar sophomore campaign.
Mullings logged 16 goals last season en route to all-conference and All-State honors, and sheâ€™s well on her way to exceed both of those marks, especially her goals scored total, which currently sits at seven through just three contests. Mullings has scored at least two goals in each of the first three games of the season, and on Friday against Rocky Hill added two assists to her multi-goal performance to lead the Indians to a 7-0 blowout win.
Itâ€™s still early in the season, but with these numbers, Mullings could very well be on her way to another All-State season, though she believes her teammates deserve just as much credit for her individual success.
â€śLast year it was my team supporting me, and now weâ€™re even stronger,â€ť Mullings said.
Newington head coach Adam Wilkinson agrees with Mullings, though he knows just how valuable an impact talent like his standout junior can be to a team that hopes to go deep into the state tournament this year.
â€śOlivia gets into a lot of good situations, but a lot of the work is done by the teammates behind her,â€ť Wilkinson said. â€śShe just finishes them off.â€ť
After losing all-conference senior Abby Molloy to graduation last spring, the Indians needed Mullings to take the next step in her development, and through three games, she seems to be well on her way to exceeding already high expectations for the season.
Much like the girls soccer squad, its fall counterpart in the Newington football team is enjoying an equally impressive start to the new season, having already logged an impressive upset over Windsor in Week 1 and a 42-7 rout of Bristol Eastern on the road this past Friday.
A big part of the Indiansâ€™ immediate success out of the gate has been the quarterback play of Nick Pestrichello, who threw for three scores against the Lancers after converting a huge 54-yard touchdown pass in Week 1 to give Newington its first lead of the game, one it would win 30-22.
â€śIt was awesome,â€ť Pestrichello said of the statement victory to open the year. â€śThe past few years weâ€™ve been rebuilding and trying to get a great team together with a great bond, and we have that now. I donâ€™t think a lot of teams can play with us right now.â€ť
Eastern certainly had trouble doing so, as Pestrichello threw for a game-high 224 yards to eliminate any fear of an emotional hangover following the teamâ€™s massive win in the season opener. The Indians are playing with an enormous amount of confidence, and with efficient play from the quarterback position thanks to Pestrichello, they have a good chance to accomplish their goal of reaching the Class L playoffs.
â€śWeâ€™re able to sustain drives if we have to and have guys who can make explosive plays when we have to,â€ť Newington head coach Jason Pace said.
And that goes a long way to the Indiansâ€™ ultimate goal.
Ryan Chichester can be reached at (860) 801-5094 or firstname.lastname@example.org