Hopkinton High School's Student News Site

HHS Press

Hopkinton High School's Student News Site

HHS Press

Hopkinton High School's Student News Site

HHS Press

Star-Studded Girls Soccer Starts Season Featuring Five College Committed Players

A strong Hillers team will look to compete for a state title with the help of five committed players

Editors Note: Since the publication of this article, Brooke Birtwistle who originally committed to play soccer at Purdue University has switched her commitment to Brown University.

The girls varsity soccer team has started their season and is off to a historic start. The team currently stands undefeated in 13 games and has been given the fifth-seed ranking in Division 1.

The previous season saw the team reach 12 wins and a spot in the playoffs, only to be knocked out in the round of 16 by Bishop-Feehan, another top team in the state.

The girls are led by senior captains Juliana Grontzos, Brooke Birtwistle, Stephanie Johnson, and Johanna Dupont. The team is coached by Tom Skiba, who has been with the team as head coach for five years.

This season the girls return five players who have all committed to schools to continue playing soccer at the college level.

Many would assume that with the amount of commits on the squad Skiba has a simple time of deciding on lineups and playing time, but Skiba states that this is not even a factor in his decisions on gameday.

“The college commitments thing quite honestly doesn’t even come into play. It’s all based on how the team performs collectively,” said Skiba in an interview.

As for the players themselves, they also take on the approach of performing together as a team rather than putting focus on what an individual’s accomplishments are.

“I’d say that within our own team, we don’t really see it like that, we’re just all here to have fun. But I think that when we go against people, it kind of scares teams. So it’s helpful in that sense,” said Brooke Birtwistle, who committed to Purdue University in the summer of 2022.

Despite not being focused on who committed where, there was a consensus response from the girls, which was that they felt nothing but support from their teammates regarding their decisions.

Senior captain Juliana Grontzos fights for the ball during a game against Ashland.

“They’re very supportive of it and excited, so it’s been good,” Grontzos said. Grontzos will be playing her soccer at Connecticut College, where she committed to this summer.

The process of committing to a school can be extremely stressful and difficult, but the support of teammates and coaches is what, for many, can help to navigate that decision.

“Boston College didn’t contact me at first and I had to go to camps and figure it out. So I feel like it was a stressful process. But I had a lot of support from my team and coaches that helped me through it,” Georgie Clarke said. Clarke is a senior on the team that announced her commitment last fall.

Ultimately the whole process comes down to where the best fit is regarding environment, academics, and athletics.

Junior standout Maddie Recupero made her commitment this summer to Princeton University and broke down how she made her decision.

“For me, I was looking for high academics because obviously soccer isn’t gonna last forever, and you get a great education at Princeton. So that was important for me because they have great academics as well as soccer so I had the perfect blend of both.”

Another factor that comes into play, according to Recupero, is trying to grasp the interest levels of coaches that reach out.

“You couldn’t really how interested the coaches were, and that was stressful because you don’t want to go to a school where the coach isn’t that interested in you.”

Despite the stress of the process, once the end goal of making a commitment happens, the rewards are worth it and is also something that can positively impact the culture of a team.

“It definitely helps us play together as a team, especially because we do have more experience. So we are able to help the younger players and create a good culture on, and off the field,” said Nina Tzouganatos, another junior commit on the team who will continue her soccer career at Boston University, where she committed in the spring of 2023.

Having a large number of committed players allows the team to have a larger number of leaders and also helps the team to feel better prepared for the test this season which will be to see if they can achieve what they failed to do in past seasons, which is to make it far in the state tournament and ultimately win a state championship.

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