Algonquin Girls Soccer team recognized with Coaches Team Pinnacle Award

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By Kevin J. Stone, Contributing Writer

Algonquin Girls Soccer players celebrate after scoring a goal during a game earlier this year. (Photo/Jesse Kucewicz)

NORTHBOROUGH/SOUTHBOROUGH – The Algonquin Girls Soccer team beat Shrewsbury on Oct. 28 in the semifinals of the inaugural CMADA tournament. 

That, however, only came after the team won an arguably more important award earlier in the same week. 

This Algonquin squad was one of 66 high school and college institutions to be named a United Soccer Coaches Team Pinnacle Award recipient. The award is given to programs that demonstrate a high level of fair play, academic excellence and success on the pitch.

“I’ve been a member of the United Soccer Coaches since 2010 and it’s a great organization,” said head coach John Clifford. “It’s mostly a reflection of culture. I support all of their programming whenever possible and I’ve benefited from it in more ways than I can describe.”

“[It’s an] invaluable association and experience and networking [opportunity],” he continued. “Where it comes into play in the high school athlete experience is something that I feel is very important to support.”

Through this success, Algonquin has had its fair share of senior leadership in the form of Fariha Khan, Serena Mihalek, Carlee Ballard, Madison Maletta, Grace Morin, Brianna Boeckeler and captains Caroline Kelly, Lucy Rodgers and Caroline Alcock.

The team’s captains, Clifford said, were all “big minute contributors” to the 2019 Algonquin team that won a Division I Central Massachusetts Championship. They’ve remained crucial parts of the program over the last two seasons, now, since that win.

“If you don’t have players invested in your program for many years, more than a year or two, then it’s very difficult to have the continuity, never mind on the field, but off the field that you need,” Clifford said. 

“The winning is downstream from the social chemistry and the culture and values that exist off the field,” he continued. “If you don’t have that, I don’t think you can sustain winning and even if you do win, it’s not as fulfilling of an experience for the players, adults, everyone involved. They’ve been great, as have all of our seniors.”

Clifford stressed how lucky he’s been to have worked under longtime coach Scott Taggart before taking over the reins of the program himself.

“Everything I’ve said about our program results from continuing what coach [Taggard] led during his 14 years,” Clifford said. “I was fortunate to be with him for eight of those years. 

“Whatever my intentions are as a coach, they would go unfulfilled without the buy-in of the players,” he continued. “The players play the game, the students get the grades, it’s really a reflection of them.”