By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – What would be the icing on the cake for Bristol Eastern girls soccer standout Myah Croze?
How about a nomination to the All-State team?
It’s a done deal and the all-time leading goal scorer for the Bristol Eastern girls soccer program earned an All-State nod – capping off an incredible career.
Four years worth of hard work and dedication led to that achievement and her coach Scott Redman — who watched Croze from the opposite side of the field as the mentor at Bristol Central over her first two seasons — got to see her full transformation from ultra-talented freshmen to a super senior who put herself in the Eastern record books at the completion of her career.
“Only coaching against her one year we knew she was talented but she was still a little timid and tried setting her teammates up more than look for her own,” said Redman. “The first thing I realized with coaching her is how technically skilled she was. She consistently found ways to be in the right position and finish. It was fun to watch.”
“Throughout her career she’s developed into one of the best teammates I’ve coached.”
Croze is the ultimate soccer player on the field, one who patrols the turf with zest but proved she was not just a scoring machine.
She typifies what a team player is all about that’s something the senior has echoed when describing how she felt about her teammates.
“I just love them so much,” said Croze about her team after her final Eastern/Central soccer showdown.
Croze might be the best player to ever suit up for the Lancers’ program and while Eastern soccer might have seen its share of down years, she helped guide the team to the state tournament in all four of her fall campaigns.
And very few players who have come through Bristol Eastern girls soccer program have been able to do or say that.
But let’s not deny the scoring aspect of Croze’s numerous abilities.
In her first campaign in 2015, she tallied seven goals. After her freshman season, it was obvious to everyone — Eastern and opposing teams alike — that the Lancers had a special player in its fold.
One year later, as a sophomore, she canned 16 goals and that total was more than halfway to Eastern’s career scoring record.
And through two seasons of work, she already had five-game winning goals to her credit.
In 2016, Croze had another banner year with 16 goals, including seven game winners – collecting 39 goals for her career.
That season, Eastern went to the second round of state tournament play as the No. 23 seed, falling to Joel Barlow 1-0 in two overtimes and winning eight matches in the end.
And then to top it all off, Croze had an excellent senior campaign as her 19 goals, along with six assists, gave her 58 total goals and the Eastern record.
And there was a little pressure in scoring that 43rd goal — the record setting tally at BE — and maybe Croze was pushing just a little too hard in trying to score it.
But once that goal was tallied and the record was secured, Croze said that pressure melted away and her scoring picked right back up.
The only Eastern player to score more goals in a season than Croze was standout Christy Carone — the player Croze dethroned as the Lancers’ top scorer.
As a senior in 1990, Carone scored 20 goals, surpassing her own record of 17 in 1989.
There are major difference between the two as Carone, a slick scoring forward.
Carone nabbed those 39 goals over her final two seasons.
But Croze was getting playing time from the start — making things happen as a freshman while Carone did the bulk of her scoring over her final two scholastic years.
Croze has a tremendous attack of the ball and once she lofts it in the air, those shots have some crazy curves that always seem to land in spots where the goalie isn’t expecting it to fall.
Those risers are sometimes out of reach for even the most active keepers.
The most fun in watching Croze play was seeing what opposing teams were employing against her in terms of defensive.
Do you guard her one-on-one? Does a squad sacrifice two players to mark the goal scorer? Or do you just throw in the towel and hope she doesn’t kick in a hat trick?
Opponents can step up for 79 minutes, in an apparent shutdown of Croze, but it has to be a full 80-minute effort because she’ll kick the ball in from midfield, drain it from up close, and as time is expiring in a match, that’s where Croze is on the attack.
The most amazing element of Croze is her on field demeanor.
She’s not flashy but she doesn’t wear a white hat either. When she’s out on the field, heads are going to roll.
Ask Bristol Central about that very fact in the final city series battle of the year between the two schools.
With 24 seconds left in a 3-3 stalemate, the crafty scorer kicked in her final goal of her career — leading her squad to an amazing one-goal win on October 29.
But game-winning goals aren’t anything new for the offensive threat.
And she can anticipate time and place better than anyone.
“She knows better than I do of when to pick and choose her spots,” said Redman of Croze after Eastern defeated Central. “With 1:20 left, I look up and she doesn’t press forward when I think she should have. And then on the bench, she’s teeing that shot up and they’re like ‘no, no, no’ and then – bang – it goes in.”
“It’s just sensational to watch. It really is.”
One match later, Eastern tied Plainville 0-0 to nab a share of the Central Connecticut Conference South Patriot Division championship.
Croze always is pushing the ball forward but if she sees a teammate in a better position for a score, bet your bottom dollar that her mate is going to get the ball in the best position to score.
“She never wants the spotlight and always deflects to her teammates,” said Redman. “It’s a joy in this day and age of self-promotion.
And this is not the end of her journey. It’s really only the beginning.
She’s going to attend Castleton University next year along with Eastern teammate, keeper Hanna Richards.
Don’t be surprised if Croze, just like she did at Bristol Eastern, cracks the line-up right from the get-go and kicking in goals from the start at the collegiate level.
Goals, goals, and more goals.
Myah Croze was a scoring machine for the Bristol Eastern girls soccer program. Here’s a look at her scholastic career and the number of goals she scored in every season:
Year Goals Scored
2015 7 goals
2016 16 goals
2017 16 goals
2018 19 goals*
*With her third goal of the season, Croze became the all-time leading scorer with her third score of the campaign, surpassing Christy Carone (42 goals).