Dec. 23—Magda Carpenter added to the history of the Lyman Memorial High School girls' soccer team this season, which carries some significance considering that her mother, the former Tera Johnson, is also part of the fabric of the program.

Tera played defense for coach Mark Morello at Lyman from 1997-2000, then at Southern Connecticut State University.

A little later, when she played in an adult league at Oakwood Soccer Club, Tera's husband Steve would bring Magda and her younger sister Phoebe to watch their mom compete.

In somewhat of a full-circle moment, Tera watched this year as Magda, a senior center midfielder, and Phoebe, a sophomore goalie, led Lyman to a 19-2-1 record, an Eastern Connecticut Conference Division II tournament championship and a berth in the Class S state final at prestigious Trinity Health Stadium in Hartford. It was Lyman's first state championship appearance.

"It went by very fast but every moment I enjoyed," Tera Carpenter said. "I enjoy it. I like the role that I have now. I just get to watch and enjoy them playing."

Magda Carpenter, one of two seniors on the team and a Class S all-state selection with 23 goals and seven assists, was named The Day's 2022 All-Area Girls' Soccer Player of the Year. She will continue her career at Division II Daemen University in Amherst, N.Y., a suburb of Buffalo.

"I just really enjoy it," Magda said of all things soccer, which includes her rooting interest for Manchester City in the Premier League and her rapt attention to World Cup games. "She put us in at such a young age; I want to say I was 4 or 5. It's a big thing for our family."

Tera let Magda and Phoebe make their own connection with Morello, who recently completed his 34th season at Lyman — "I always just say at the end of the day you have to have respect for the commitment and the time that (Morello) has had invested into the program and the kids that have come through," she said.

And she tries not to be a backseat coach to the girls.

"Both of them are their own worst critics. The two of them will be coming home together and her and her sister will just kind of like bounce scenarios of what had happened in the game off of each other," Tera said.

For Lyman, the season centered around Carpenter and fellow senior Leah Comeroski, a forward, and their willingness to lead.

Morello calls Carpenter, a three-time all-conference pick (there were no all-ECC selections in 2020 during the pandemic) and two time all-state and All-Area honoree, the Bulldogs' "driving force."

Carpenter is the first Lyman player selected as The Day's Player of the Year since Ashlee Coutu won three straight such honors from 2006-08.

"Her best skill is just her will to win," Morello said of Carpenter, "to win every battle on the field and to make her teammates better. We started five freshmen and sophomores ... she taught them."

The Carpenters moved back to the area when Magda was in eighth grade.

"As a freshman, she was very quiet, the new kid on the block," Morello said. "(What impressed me was) I think just the way she handled herself. She didn't waste her time. A really passionate soccer player."

One of the things Carpenter will take from this season is the camaraderie with her teammates, including Comeroski, with whom she started all four years.

"That's how we've gotten so close," she said of Comeroski. "We have an on-the-field connection. She was my first friend when I moved here. I knew that it was going to be something special. We were all putting in so much time. We were getting everybody together just to get in some training.

"Our team chemistry ... it's nice when everybody on the team is best friends. Each accomplishment kept us so excited."

The top-seeded Bulldogs won their quarterfinal in the Class S tournament in penalty kicks, beating Bolton 2-1. Magda scored the tying goal to send the game to overtime and scored in the penalty kick round, with younger sister Phoebe also playing a starring role in goal.

In the semifinals, Lyman defeated Portland 3-1 in double-overtime. Magda scored the game's insurance goal in the first overtime session.

That brings Magda to one of the other things she will remember this season: the history of it all.

"It was just so electric, we were pumped up, so excited to play in the finals. We went to a Hartford Athletic game (earlier in the season at Trinity Health Stadium). That was kind of our motivation. If we want to play there, we have to put in the work," Carpenter said.

"It was really cool. It was almost weird being able to be there, being in the locker room. ... It really was a season to remember. It's nice to end off senior year like that."

The Day's 2022 All-Area Girls' Soccer Team

Player of the Year — Magda Carpenter (Lyman Memorial)

Forward — Abbie Belleville (East Lyme), Leah Comeroski (Lyman Memorial), Carly Constantine (Stonington), Alexis Fenton (Old Lyme)

Midfield — Jess English (Ledyard), Jordan Fabry (NFA), Audrey Palmer (Bacon Academy), Maya Terwilliger (Stonington)

Defense — Ava Pitruzzello (East Lyme), Emilia Podeszwa (Waterford)

Goalie — Grace Jenkins (Fitch)

Utility — Emily Hernandez (St. Bernard), Lyla Powers (Old Lyme)


(c)2022 The Day (New London, Conn.)

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