WILTON — Lindsay Groves was so certain about her future path that she accepted the first college offer she received — just weeks after the end of her freshman year at Wilton High School.
Now, as the distance to Boston College shortens, Groves, a senior, has decided to slow down and enjoy the ride.
“It’s a super bittersweet moment because I love high school so much, but I’m really excited to get to college and I’m really excited for that transition,” Groves said. “But high school season, you can’t even explain it. It’s so much fun playing.”
Groves and her teammates will not be lacking for motivation when training camp opens in a little bit more than a month. After a 3-0 start last season, the Warriors, a preseason contender, lost four straight and five of their next six games. Missing out on the conference tournament was a reality.
Wilton rebounded yet needed a 3-0 win over Fairfield Ludlowe in the penultimate game to edge the Falcons for the eighth and final seed.
“You can’t get off to a slow start in the FCIAC,” Groves said. “You can have a couple of losses but you can’t really be suffering that much that quickly. I think people came in cocky and were ready to do things on the field but not off the field. I think this year we have a different mindset.”
Groves, a center forward who led the Warriors in scoring, is now a captain and optimistic they can improve on an 11-7-1 record.
“I think we’re all very close this year because we have a ton of returners rather than new kids,” Groves said. “We’re all super close. We all love playing with each other as well as being with each other off the field, and I think that off the field chemistry helps on the field because if people are happy with each other they are happy together. That’s one of the things I have to work on, keeping the team happy and together and focused and get the same goal that we all want, which is to win.”
Groves is one of the league’s fastest players, dangerous in space and able to create her own scoring chances. She is also an accomplished playmaker.
Wilton coach Renato Topali said it is this diverse skill set that has allowed Groves to flourish.
“She has multiple assets that she brings to the team,” Topali, who is out of the country, said via email. “Her speed, quickness, fitness levels are at a high level. She has the ability to take players, shoot from distance, deliver quality services and find penetrating passes. Her vision and decision-making improved as the season went on last year, and she was able to create lots of assists for the team. That’s something I’m looking forward for her to continue, in addition to looking to find the back of the net.”
It is highly unusual for soccer players to give verbal commitments so early, but Groves said there was no reason to delay her decision. She said Boston College extended an offer on a Friday morning and suggested she consider and discuss it after the weekend. Groves said her mind was made up that same night.
“I was like, ‘I’m done. I’m ready,’ ” Groves recalled. “I think it was my best option. I didn’t think I would find a better academic and athletic program anywhere else. It was the perfect fit for me and where I wanted to be.”
Groves said she has trained herself not to get complacent given her status. She said she received a “wakeup call” during a camp at Boston College two weeks ago.
“They said you still really have to work your butt off. If my head college coach is telling me that, it is something I really have to work on,” Groves said. “I’m working hard on my fitness and eating right, nutrition, even doing some summer work too to prepare for the SATs and see if I can do better and be comfortable with myself. I’m super excited to totally change my lifestyle a little bit.”
Interestingly, Groves has been recruited as an outside back, a position she has never played before. Instead of scoring goals, she will soon be charged to stop them.
“I’ve been to the camps the last three years, I’ve been to seven or eight of them and I’ve always been put at outside back, outside mid occasionally, but mostly outside back,” Groves said. “If I put my mind to it I will learn the position and I can make it easier with my work ethic. I’m very determined and I want to do things right and I want to be successful.”
The same can be said for her fine season at Wilton. Topali was asked what he expected from Groves this year.
“Nothing that she doesn’t expect out of herself already,” Topali said. “She knows she can be one of the top players in this league and can impact any game. We are hoping for her to continue to lead by example and help lead the team, given her experience in the program.”