Emily Wallingford has tried to stay positive during her senior soccer season, but that was hard to do Tuesday when heavy rain washed out practice for the Saint Dominic Academy girls soccer team.
“It’s just tough because it’s my senior year, so it’s the last of everything for high school,” Wallingford, a team captain, said. “Just missing more high school soccer practices. But, I mean, we’re doing the best with what we have. I’m just grateful we’re able to just even practice and play.”
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wallingford wasn’t even sure what to expect a few months ago. Her junior season of girls lacrosse — when the Saints were looking to repeat as state champs — was wiped out in the spring, and that has made her even more appreciative of this soccer season.
“I feel like you don’t know that you love something so much until it’s gone,” Wallingford said.
And Wallingford loves soccer. It’s her passion, she said, and has been for as long as she can remember.
“You know, she’s been playing her entire life, and she’s done club, she did (Global Premier Soccer) for a while, as well, so that definitely helped increase her ability,” St. Dom’s coach Tyler Shennett said. “And just the constant training has allowed her to be a very prolific and efficient goal-scorer, and it’s definitely something that will be missed next year, for sure.”
Wallingford has been a starter since her freshman year, including the past two with Shennett as her coach.
“I had been told that I was being handed a very technical and gifted player on the ball, and definitely was handed a midfielder that could really change the game and change the tempo of the field in midfield, and that’s exactly what I got,” Shennett said. “I got a No. 10 that can absolutely control the play, put in the goals and really help her team get the success that we need.”
Shennett initially put Wallingford at central midfield last year before moving her to an attacking role.
“And when that happened she was able to set up a couple goals (in the playoffs) and really help the team propel itself forward,” he said.
The Saints made an unexpected run in last year’s playoffs after narrowly qualifying for the postseason.
There are no playoffs this year due to COVID-related restrictions.
“We’re happy to just be able to play, but also we are a competitive team and obviously we still do want to win, but I think this year is more of a rebuilding year,” Wallingford said. “So the leaders, the seniors, are just looking to help rebuild next year because we don’t have playoffs at the end of this year.”
The Saints are still looking for their first win of the year, but Wallingford has played her part by contributing heavily to the offense. If she’s not scoring, she’s drawing the attention of defenders to create opportunities for her teammates, including her sister, sophomore Lexi.
“It’s awesome. I love playing with my sister. We always have a special handshake before a game that we started this year, and just it’s nice to be able to be on the same team with her, and just even get two years with her is awesome,” Wallingford said. “Just we have the chemistry on the team, me and her do, where we just know where each other are on the field. Just passing between us both is simple and very easy.”
Wallingford said she generally isn’t dreading the end of her final high school soccer season, but she is sad to be counting down the final games with her sister.
Emily’s career will likely continue, though. College teams have scouted her and watched her games. Wallingford named UMaine-Farmington, Central Maine Community College and Thomas College as programs that have shown interest in her.
“That’s very exciting,” Wallingford said. “It’s also, I think, why I’m not dreading the season ending in a couple weeks. I think just because I do have the future of playing soccer, which I love.”