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Senior captain Britny Gildersleeve brings an aggressive approach to the soccer pitch in order to make an impact on both sides of the ball for North Branford. (Photo courtesy of Britny Gildersleeve )
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Britny Gildersleeve feels fortunate that she’s playing for the North Branford girls’ soccer team in her senior year. During the summer, Britny was in an auto accident that resulted in a concussion, as well as a lingering injury that she’s been dealing with throughout the season. However, after undergoing several months of physical therapy, Britny is on the field and making a positive contribution to the Thunderbirds as a senior captain.
“I was nervous, because I had to get an MRI and was worried I couldn’t play. But when the tests came back clear, I knew I could play through the pain and not make it worse,” Britny says. “I was really happy I could finish my senior year playing with the team.”
Britny will occasionally have to sit out a practice if she’s feeling sore after a game. Britny wants to make sure that she’s ready for the next contest, so she can help North Branford come out victorious. The T-Birds recently completed their regular season and are now getting ready to compete in the Class M State Tournament.
“[Head Coach Pat Kozloski] told me at the beginning of the year not to overdo it. Even if I need to miss a practice, it’s OK,” says Britny. “We’ve made changes that have helped us this season, and we’ve done well with that.”
Britny brings a lot of grit to the pitch as someone who can play both center midfielder and center back. Coach Kozloski relies on Britny to take the ball away from the Thunderbirds’ opponents.
“Britny plays with an aggressiveness that is nice to see, because it’s clean, yet she goes into tackles hard. She defends with passion,” Kozloski says. “One of her biggest assets is her ability to tackle one-on-one in the open field, so she stops a lot of attacks from getting going. Then when she does win the ball, she gets her eyes up and helps the attack.”
Britny has been a scrappy player since she started playing soccer. She’s never hesitant about making a hard rush for the ball.
“When I pressure the ball, I will either slow them down or win the ball,” says Britny. “Over the years, I would go 100 percent to the ball because, if you don’t, you can get hurt. You can’t be scared of the ball. You can’t back away.”
Britny has made some big improvements in her transition game. She does a great job of initiating the T-Birds’ attack from her midfielder’s position.
“When I get the ball in the middle, I like to play it to my forward’s feet or over the top. If we get a throw-in, my throw goes further than the defender, so I take it, and we can have a chance to go up the field and past the defense,” Britny says. “I like to grab it quickly and play it up the field when the defense isn’t on its toes or ready for it.”
Britny also likes to take charge as one of North Branford’s captains. She likes how she’s working with fellow senior captains Lexi Rosado and Gabby Sarmento to lead the T-Birds this season.
“I think the three of us work well as captains. Everyone is comfortable coming to us, and we’re the spokespersons for everyone on and off the field. As captains, we don’t have to be scared to talk,” says Britny. “During the game, I’m more vocal. In practice, I’m more fun, because the game settings are more serious. I like to have fun at practice with my team.”
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