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Senior captain Madison Gambardella is leading a staunch defensive unit as a center back for the Guilford girls’ soccer squad this fall. (Photo courtesy of Madison Gambardella )
Madison Gambardella started playing soccer at age five and, by the time she was 10, she found her way on to an elite travel team called CFC United out of Bethany. This was just the beginning for Madison, who is currently one of the best defenders in the Southern Connecticut Conference and a senior captain for the Guilford girls’ soccer squad. Madison and her dedicated collection of teammates are sporting a record of 9-1-2 this year and have only allowed three goals on the campaign.
“There’s a pride in playing soccer for Guilford High School. The tradition is rich,” says Madison. “This year, we held captains’ summer practices, just like they’ve always done. Our attendance was high. Nobody wanted to let anybody down.”
A four-year starter, Madison serves as one of the Indians’ captains with senior midfielder Gabi Garcia-Perez and plays alongside her younger sister Taylor at the center back position. Head Coach Scott McMahon says that Madison made an immediate impact on his team and has continually improved with each passing season.
“Madison came into our program and was able to start as a freshman, because she had great tutelage from our seniors,” McMahon says. “That class took her under their wing. The last two years, she’s been a solid player who has now taken ownership of her game.”
Guilford won its first six games of the year without giving up a goal. After taking a loss to Mercy, the Indians got right back on track by recording three-straight shutout victories. With the regular season nearing its conclusion, Madison has high hopes for what Guilford can achieve during the postseason this fall.
“Our senior group wants to go out as winners,” Madison says. “We have high expectations, and we believe that we’re strong contenders for both the SCC playoffs and the State Tournament. Really, it’s in our hands.”
Madison has progressed into an excellent defender through her dedication and work ethic. While Madison describes her style of play as “physical and aggressive,” Coach McMahon says that she also knows how to maintain her composure on the pitch.
“She’s as composed a player as you’ll find and has an instinct about playing her position,” says McMahon. “She’s organized and vocal and has a great foot.”
In addition to playing for Guilford, Madison has developed her skills as a result of competing for her club team. Madison likes playing soccer an elite level as much as she can.
“I’ve always wanted to play the sport at a high, competitive level,” Madison says. “It’s a pride factor with me. I’m willing to dedicate myself to being as good as I can be.”
As a member of the Indians, one of the added bonuses for Madison is that she gets to patrol the defensive end of the field with her sister by her side.
“It’s nice playing in the same backfield with my sister,” says Madison. “We have great chemistry together.”
Madison and her fellow defenders are doing a great job of protecting the net for Guilford’s goalkeepers. Senior Claire Mackenzie and junior Olivia Ste. Marie have combined for nine shutouts in net this year.
“It doesn’t matter whether coach puts Olivia back there or Claire,” Madison says. “They’re both very good.”
Madison has already committed to attend Babson College in Massachusetts, where she plans to continue her soccer career while majoring in business.
Madison says that her family has played a big role in her success on the soccer field. She thanks her parents Kim and Chris, along with Taylor and her younger brother Chris, for their support through the years.
Madison appreciates that she lives in a town with a great soccer tradition where everyone loves the sport so much.
“It’s a wonderful place to live,” says Madison. “They love their soccer, and our team loves to help to keep that winning tradition going.”