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Sydney Herard is off to a fast start in her career with the East Haven girls’ soccer squad. Sydney, a sophomore center midfielder, has been a varsity starter for the Yellowjackets throughout the past two seasons. (Photo courtesy of Sydney Herard )
Sydney Herard has already shown that she’s a capable contributor in her early days with the East Haven girls’ soccer team. Only a sophomore, Sydney is logging some big minutes for the Yellowjackets on the pitch and showing marked improvement as a varsity starter.
The future looks even brighter for Sydney and the Easties.
Last year, Sydney joined the East Haven girls’ soccer program and ended up starting every game in the midfield as a freshman. Now into her second season, Sydney continues to grow as a soccer player and is holding a more significant role with the Yellowjackets.
“In the beginning, I was nervous to play. I felt like it was a really big role I had to fill,” Sydney says. “I did not expect to be a varsity starter as a freshman, but with the support of my teammates, who I’ve been playing with through East Haven Youth Soccer, I felt comfortable. I was able to play like how I’ve always played since when I was younger.”
At the end of every season, Head Coach Jake Hackett meets with each one of his players and asks them to work on various things in the offseason. During her freshman year, Hackett observed that Sydney focused primarily on defense while she played the center midfield position. Hackett asked Sydney to continue improving on defense, but to also make strides offensively and be ready to move the ball forward.
Sydney took those instructions to heart. Hackett saw that Sydney came into this season fired up, and she’s been exceeding expectations. Sydney is displaying numerous traits that have her poised to continue her success as she works her way through the East Haven program.
“Sydney has done way beyond what was expected of her this year, and I am so proud of her,” Coach Hackett says. “She may only be a sophomore, but she is a leader. She is a facilitator on the field. She works hard in practice. She does whatever her teammates need, and she is a very, very good player, as well. You wish you had a full team of Sydney Herards. That’s the kind of kid she is.”
Sydney feels that her sophomore season is going considerably better than her first year with the team. Entering the high school, Sydney already knew many of her teammates through her experience with East Haven Youth Soccer. The chemistry between Sydney and her teammates has only grown since then, and they’re continuing to form bonds both on and off the field.
Sydney started playing soccer at age three and has stuck with the sport uninterrupted through high school. In 2015, Sydney was on the East Haven’s 12-U 8-on-8 division team that won the state championship. That team also featured Sydney’s current Yellowjacket teammates Kate Pycela, Emily Pycela, Gianna Mendez, Gabriella Gaetano, Emily Mazzucco, and Bella Pilato. Sydney believes that the connections between the Easties benefit them on the field.
“Most of the team played with me through East Haven Youth Soccer. Most of the people on varsity, we had a team and won the state championship,” says Sydney. “We really have the potential to be that same team again and be just as good as we were when we were younger.”
Sydney was inspired to take up soccer after watching her sister Marley and brother Duncan play. The three siblings played have played a lot of soccer together in the backyard, allowing Sydney’s love of the sport to flourish.
“I would go to all of my brother and sister’s soccer games, and I wanted to play just like they did. I would play in the backyard with them all the time,” Sydney says. “We have a really big yard, and we share it with a bunch of neighbors. We would have these big soccer games, and we would all play together and get better together.”
Sydney’s goals are to continue improving her play on the field and learn new techniques that can help her become the best soccer player she can be. Sydney also wants to develop her leadership skills and assist East Haven’s younger players as they make the transition to high school.
Sydney loves just being out there on the field playing soccer, but playing with her longtime teammates is the most special part for her.
“It’s not really about being good or the most athletic or the fastest. It’s just a team mentality,” Sydney says. “It’s like having a separate family. You meet new people, and you make all these different connections. You learn so much, even about life. You learn about winning and losing and never giving up.”