In posting 34 points in her first two seasons, Cheshire High School sophomore soccer player Gabby Tirado has earned her share of individual honors. While no stranger to putting the ball in the net, she feels that her goals often are the product of her teammates’ hard work.
“They are so important,” said Tirado. “There have been so many assists on my goals. In practice, we work on building from the back to get the ball into the attacking third. Our defense and (senior goalkeeper) Seymone (Rosenberg) have also been such a huge factor in what the team has done.”
Through embracing Cheshire’s unified concept, Tirado received a special accolade on Monday. After posting 14 goals and three assists in 2020, she was one of 14 girls in the state to receive All-New England distinction.
As a senior four years ago, Saige Bingman was the last Rams soccer player to be honored regionally.
“It is such an honor, especially at a young age. It is even more special because no one has gotten it since 2016,” said Tirado. “My teammates deserve so much credit and so do my coaches, Kylee (McIntosh) and Eric (Rothbart).”
McIntosh said that she couldn’t be more proud of Tirado and the way her team excelled in a strange year.
“To score 14 goals in 12 games is amazing,” said McIntosh. “I’m glad that Gabby is getting the recognition that she deserves.”
Tirado started playing soccer in Wolcott and then came to Cheshire in fourth grade.
“I didn’t know what to think about the move at first,” reflected Tirado. “I missed some friends, but meeting people like (sophomore) Anna (Hurlbut) was amazing.”
Among her strengths, McIntosh lists Tirado’s work ethic, willingness to pursue the ball, chase down defenders, and have a great relationship with teammates.
“She is critical of herself in a way that doesn’t take away from her play,” added McIntosh. “That is important in a kid her age.”
Tirado developed her skills with Farmington Sports Arena (FSA) Football Club, but quickly developed chemistry with local teammates while attending both Dodd Middle School and CHS.
“The love for the sport has grown in the last couple years,” Tirado reflected. “It is great to build something special with 11 girls on the field. There is so much to like about soccer.”
Last year, Tirado burst onto the scene as a CHS freshman, tallying a team-best 17 points (16 goals, assist). She had three hat tricks, two of which came against Lauralton Hall, on the way to earning All-Southern Connecticut Conference First Team and All-Class LL honors.
“Coming into my freshman year, I didn’t think of certain accolades,” recalled Tirado. “I had no idea about All-State, but to receive it last year was amazing.”
Tirado helped the 2019 Rams go unbeaten in the Housatonic Division (7-0-1). CHS had starters Caroline Campion, Olivia Jones, and Izzy Pellegrino miss time with anterior cruciate ligament injuries, however, the team still went 14-4-2 in McIntosh’s first year.
“If we had all of those girls healthy, I think we would have still won the division and done even better at the end of the season,” recalled Tirado. “We made the best of it.”
While only a freshman last fall, Tirado came up clutch in her first playoff experience. After Cheshire secured the top seed in the SCC Tournament, she scored the game-winner in a 1-0 quarterfinal win over Daniel Hand.
Tirado also had a memorable debut at States, netting two goals in a 2-1 overtime win over Danbury in the Class LL First Round.
“That night was absolutely freezing. If I stopped moving, it felt like my toes were going to freeze up,” recalled Tirado, who added that she was used to playing in cold temperatures with her club team. “In my first state game, having an overtime goal was amazing.”
In returning to play amid the pandemic this year, Tirado contributed heavily to the Rams posting an 8-4 record. She netted hat tricks in wins over host Lyman Hall (8-0) and Hamden (7-0).
“I definitely think that I was a lot more comfortable this year,” reflected Tirado. “Coming in last year, I did a lot better than I thought I would do. My parents and coaches felt the same way.”
While initially hoping to get to play at least one game this fall, Tirado felt her team exceeded their expectations.
“We got some games canceled, but that was out of our control,” said Tirado. “We followed the rules, like wearing masks. I think our team pulled through with everything and that really showed.”
Tirado feels that a huge part of her success came from working up top with senior Ellie Pergolotti. The friends combined for 24 goals and 12 assists, earning spots on All-SCC Division A and All-Class LL.
“It was awesome,” stated Tirado. “I know that she has been working so hard for those honors. It is special to share them with someone.”
Tirado was also chosen as the SCC Division A Player of the Year.
“When Kylee called to tell me, I was amazed,” said Tirado. “It is cool that I get to share it with two other people because the SCC was split into three divisions this year.”
For their division tournament, CHS won three straight games to reach the title game, but fell 1-0 to Mercy. After dropping three games to their rival this fall, Tirado feels that the Rams will take motivation into next season.
“It would be amazing to bring a championship back to Cheshire High School and get bragging rights,” said Tirado.
Individually, Tirado wants to get All-State and All-New England again. Her dream is to earn All-American.
“I’m excited to see what she has in store for us,” stated McIntosh.
While looking forward to the 2021 season, Tirado knows she will miss being around Cheshire’s 13 seniors.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do next year,” said Tirado. “Off the field, they have become my best friends and it is going to be sad without them.”
She is now waiting to see if she will get to play basketball. After a state-mandated break from sports through the end of this year, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference is planning to have winter teams begin practice on Jan. 19.
“I definitely hope to get my basketball season. We have seniors who want to finish out their careers on the court,” said Tirado, who helped her freshman team go unbeaten earlier this year. “We have a new head coach (Angelica Ariola) and she seems to be awesome.”