February 26, 2020
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Senior captain Katie Ryan made a selfless transition to the center back position this fall to help the North Haven girls’ soccer squad secure a spot in the Class L State Tournament. Photo courtesy of Katie Ryan

Senior captain Katie Ryan made a selfless transition to the center back position this fall to help the North Haven girls’ soccer squad secure a spot in the Class L State Tournament. (Photo courtesy of Katie Ryan )

Ryan Was a Central Figure in the Indians’ Resurgence

Published Dec 26, 2019 • Last Updated 04:55 pm, December 26, 2019

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Katie Ryan has been playing soccer for as long as she can remember, and she’s patrolled several different positions on the pitch throughout that time. Katie primarily played outside midfielder when younger and then switched over to outside defender when she joined the high school team. This fall, the senior captain moved to center back to solidify North Haven’s defense and wound up helping the Indians sneak into states with some great play down the stretch.

“It was new to me, but I can see the entire field from where I was, so it was really good. Me being a captain, I’m very vocal and yell a lot on the field, so it was good for me to see everything before it happened, so I could predict things,” Katie says. “I’m really aggressive, and I get a lot of fouls, but I stopped some of the best forwards. I’m good one-on-one, and the team has a lot of trust in me to stop people on breakaways.”

Midway through the season, Head Coach Gary Collins read an analytics report and determined that the Indians were allowing most of their goals from up the middle. Collins knew that putting a player as tenacious as Katie into the center back role could turn things around for his squad. It proved a perfect move for both North Haven and Katie, who went on to earn All-SCC Second Team honors.

“Goals were coming from up the middle of the field, because we were lacking a presence there, somebody more aggressive and quicker in the middle. So, we spoke to Katie about it, and she was willing to do it,” says Collins. “It showed her character as a leader that she was willing to bypass a position she was more comfortable with to help her team win games and get us to the State Tournament. She played well and stopped a lot of our issues. She won balls in the air and shut down team’s best players in the second half of the season.”

Katie overcame injury and illness that forced her to miss four games early in the campaign. It was difficult for Katie to watch from the sidelines, because she wanted nothing more than to be on the field with her teammates.

“It was hard for me, because I had to watch them struggle and couldn’t do anything on the field to help,” says Katie. “I had a talk with them once I came back about attitude and how we can make states. From there, everybody worked hard, so it was the best thing we could’ve done.”

Katie loved leading North Haven as one of the team’s senior captains alongside Erika Holle and Katie Chieffo. Katie says the team was as close as it’s ever been, making it that much easier for everyone to improve throughout the season.

“I’ve been playing with these girls since we were little, so we’re like a family. It’s good to bring everyone together and, because of our team bond, we were a lot closer than we’ve been in the past,” Katie says. “I think we made everyone feel comfortable, so everyone improved a lot this year.”

It was a dream come true for Katie and her teammates to qualify for the Class L State Tournament this year. After playing in states as a freshman, Katie and her fellow senior captains were happy to experience postseason play one last time.

“The three of us played varsity that year and played in that game,” says Katie. “For us to make it back is special. We put in our best effort and were proud of the team in that game.”

With her high school career coming to a close, Katie feels excited about the possibility of competing at the next level. Katie is considering attending either Salve Regina University in Rhode Island or the University of Tampa. No matter where she goes, Katie wants to play for her college’s soccer squad.

“If I play, it will be at one of those two schools. I’ve met with both coaches and discussed my options about playing,” Katie says. “It’s really exciting to see all these hard years paid off. Playing in college is not something I ever thought I’d be able to do.”

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