Cheshire High School senior Marisa Brough can pinpoint when she started dreaming of a college soccer career. At age 10, she was upset about being cut from her premier team, but the experience paid dividends in her development as a player.
“It pushed me to work a lot harder,” recalled Brough. “I don’t think I would be where I am today without being cut at that time.”
It took seven years and countless hours of practice for her to reach her long-time goal. In January, Brough committed to playing soccer for the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford.
“I’m really excited,” said Brough. “The location was big for me. I thought the team worked well together, too.”
“I could not be more proud of her,” said Cheshire Head Coach Kylee McIntosh. “I know that she was looking at schools and I’m glad that she found a great fit for her to go play at the next level.”
Brough looked closely at Springfield College (Massachusetts), but chose USJ for the chance to play soccer and participate in the physician assistant (PA) program. Since she battled injuries in her senior season last fall, Brough became interested in the rehabilitation process.
“I heard that a PA can operate on people and work in orthopedics,” stated Brough. “I’m interested in that field.”
Coached by Kelly Shimmin in Division III, USJ plays soccer in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference.
“I want to have a winning season as a freshman. Coach said that I will play, so I’m excited for that opportunity,” said Brough.
Teamwork means a lot to Brough. As a senior captain for soccer, indoor track and field, and golf at CHS, she likes setting a positive example for her friends.
“It is good to see how leadership translates to all three sports,” said Brough.
For soccer at CHS, Brough cracked the varsity lineup as a sophomore, tallying two goals and two assists. After starting the year at 5-4, the Rams rallied to defend their Housatonic Division title (6-1-1, 10-6-3 overall) and reach the second round of states.
“In my sophomore year, I was playing against a lot of girls two years older than me. It made me not complain that I was playing up from that point on,” Brough said. “I was pretty nervous playing with upperclassmen, but they were welcoming to the team.”
As a junior, Brough posted two goals and five assists, but after Cheshire (7-7-4) lost their first game in the Southern Connecticut Conference and Class LL tournaments, Brough was determined to come back with a stronger season.
Despite graduating eight seniors, the Rams returned last fall to post a 14-4-2 record and win the Housatonic crown (7-0-1). During the year, CHS earned a 13-game unbeaten streak.
“It was really great, especially since we had a lot of injuries,” said Brough. “We played as a team and worked hard. It was good to see it (that effort) pay off.”
Senior Caroline Campion, who will play at Marist College in New York, and sophomore Olivia Jones sat out the 2019 season due to anterior cruciate ligament injuries. Cheshire also lost junior Izzy Pellegrino to a knee injury during the year.
“It was pretty hard,” said Brough. “Caroline is one of my best friends and to not have her on the field was tough. We could have been very good if we had all of our players.”
As the only senior starter, Brough provided experience in the mid-field. Along with using her size and skill to win possession, she contributed three goals and five assists.
“I thought we worked well together and they listened to what I said,” said Brough.
At season’s end, Brough received the Coaches Award.
“Marisa was our leader on and off the field,” stated McIntosh. “She was a physical presence and picked everyone up. I believe that she was the heart of the team.”
After James Luis stepped down as head coach after seven seasons, McIntosh moved from assistant to head coach last year.
“It was a little different because coaches have different styles,” stated Brough. “Kylee did a great job in pushing us and bringing in new tactics.”
Brough liked captaining the team with Campion and junior goalkeeper Seymone Rosenberg.
“Those two are great to work with on and off the field,” said Brough. “We bounced ideas off each other.”
In the 2019 SCC Tournament, CHS beat Daniel Hand 1-0, but fell 2-0 to Shelton in the semifinals. In Class LL action, CHS outlasted Danbury, 2-1, in double overtime and then fell 2-0 to New Canaan.
“It was a good season, especially since we had a young team,” reflected Brough. “I wish we could have gone further in the tournaments.”
In graduating among six seniors, Brough feels that she will miss her teammates and coaches.
“They are basically family to me at this point,” said Brough. “They are going to be so good next year.”
While she was sad to end her CHS soccer career, Brough enjoyed being part of the indoor track and field team in the winter and throwing shot put.
“It was cool,” said Brough, who joined the team as a sophomore. “Mr. (Frank) J (Jawidzik) helps out the girls (with throwing) and we work with the boys, too.”
Brough is now waiting to see if she will be able to play golf for one more year. The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference hasn’t canceled spring sports yet, but due to the outbreak of COVID-19 or coronavirus, the season has been postponed.
“It really stinks, especially since it is my senior year, but I’m trying to stay positive and see what happens,” said Brough.
A varsity golfer since her freshman year, Brough earned All-SCC in the last two seasons.
“I played golf for the first time as a freshman,” reflected Brough, who credits 2019 CHS graduate and two-time captain Cassidy Keaney for suggesting that she try out for the team. “It has been a great experience.”
Brough has enjoyed working with Head Coach John Williams, who has been named the Connecticut High School Coaches Association Coach of the Year.
“He is like a second father to me,” said Brough. “He is a very nice and generous man. I’ve learned so much from him as a coach and person.”