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Sophomore goalie Brooke Salutari has been making some big saves for the Hand girls’ soccer squad during the past few weeks. (Photo courtesy of Brooke Salutari )
After serving as one of the backups last year, Brooke Salutari is making a name herself as a goalkeeper for the Hand girls’ soccer team this fall. Brooke saw a little playing time as a freshman, but now she’s found a home in the net for the Tigers during her sophomore season. Brooke feels happy to be making an impact at a position she’s been playing since the beginning of her career.
“I’ve been a goalie since I started standing in front of big nets, which was back when I was in the 3rd grade,” says Brooke. “I’ve rarely ever been a field player.”
Throughout the past few weeks, Brooke has come up with a slew of huge stops for Head Coach David Dikranian’s club. Brooke posted a shutout when Hand clinched a spot in states by earning a 5-0 victory versus Wilbur Cross on Oct. 18. A few days later, she picked up another shutout when the Tigers battled Shelton to a scoreless draw. In her last seven games, Brooke is averaging seven saves per contest.
“Brooke has made some incredible saves,” Coach Dikranian says. “One in particular late in our game with Shelton preserved the tie. That’s Brooke. She has that ability to steal a shot and keep us in a game.”
Hand finished the regular season with a record of 6-7-3 on its way to qualifying for both the SCC Tournament and the Class L State Tournament. The Tigers took a 1-0 loss to Cheshire in the SCC quarterfinals last week and now turn their attention to the state bracket.
Hand has had to deal with some key injuries this year, including three to starting seniors. Brooke feels proud of the Tigers for gutting it out to solidify their place in the playoffs.
“We’re usually always playing teams that have older and more experienced players on their side,” Brooke says. “We’ve worked hard at communicating well and reacting more quickly in many situations.”
Even though Brooke is only a sophomore, she prides herself on leading the team while manning the goal. Brooke knows that getting early experience in the varsity net is going to benefit both herself and the up-and-coming Tigers throughout the next two seasons.
“I like directing the play out there. I’m trying to improve all the time,” Brooke says. “We’re a young team, and we’re experiencing new things all the time.”
Brooke is also a starter for the Hand girls’ basketball squad in the winter. Last spring, she earned the starting left fielder’s job for the softball team midway through the season. In the classroom, Brooke enjoys taking courses in the sciences and English and has even tried her hand at writing.
Brooke stays plenty busy as a year-round student-athlete, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. In the end, Brooke always finds a way to accomplish what she needs to.
“The most important factor and one I’m always working on is managing my time,” says Brooke. “When you make the postseason in one sport, it makes the adjustment time to the next sport even shorter.”
Brooke still has two years left in her high school career, and Coach Dikranian looks forward to seeing what she can achieve. Dikranian feels that Brooke features the proper combination of skills to continue holding things down in goal.
“She’s one of our most improved players,” Dikranian says. “Brooke has that knack for reading the other team’s offense. I’m impressed with her confidence and demeanor.”