SOUTHINGTON — Southington girls soccer has taken its place among the state’s elite programs in the past four years. A centerpiece of that ascension has been center-midfielder Abby Sowa.
With Sowa in the middle, the Blue Knights compiled a 58-7-4 record over the last four years, reached the Class LL state final in 2019 and went 14-0 in CCC Region B this season.
“Where do I begin?” replied Southington coach Mike Linehan when asked about Sowa’s impact. “Looking at the acknowledgements she did receive and will receive, she will be the most decorated player in our program in 20 years.”
Sowa’s next stop will be Greenville, N.C. She’s accepted a partial scholarship from East Carolina University and signed with the Division I program this week.
“The big-sports atmosphere,” Sowa said of what drew her to East Carolina. “It’s a big school — over 20,000 students — and being able to be an athlete and playing there is exciting.
“Overall, the academics are good, too,” Sowa added. “They have a lot to choose from.”
The Pirates are equally excited to have the Southington standout aboard their ship.
"Abby is another one that checks off the athletic and physical boxes for us,” East Carolina soccer head coach Jason Hamilton said of Sowa on the ECU website. “She is very scrappy and puts her body on the line for her team. She brings a leadership aspect as well, having been in the captain role with both her club and high school teams — something that shows when you are watching her.”
Sowa was a captain for the Blue Knights as well as her club team, Farmington-based FSA FC. Linehan, who is involved with FSA, has coached Sowa since she was 12.
“I got to see the type of player she was at that age, with great work ethic and intensity,” Linehan said. “She developed what she needed to develop and made her into the player she is today.”
People noticed, around the state and beyond.
Sowa was selected to the United Soccer Coaches All-New England Region I Team last year as a junior. That same season she was named All-State, All-Conference and the Record-Journal Girls Soccer Player of the Year.
She also showed up in the New England Soccer Journal and on the High School Soccer All-American Game watch list.
Colleges also took notice. Sowa entertained overtures that included Division I offers from Central Connecticut State and Marist before setting on East Carolina.
“This is something I’ve always wanted to do,” Sowa said of playing Division I soccer. “Seeing former teammates do it, it’s special to be able to do it as well. I’ve gotten so much help from my teammates, family and coaches.”
Sowa is the daughter of Paul Sowa and Kathleen Dagata. In college, she projects to play her customary center-mid position or perhaps slide to center-back. She is undecided on what she will study in college.
Linehan said Sowa’s best quality on the field is her composure.
“As a center-midfielder, you need that level of composure when you are under pressure,” the Southington coach said. “She can settle a team down with her talent and demeanor, and her stature is a critical component of our success. She’s able to settle the team down at times when we needed her. She has a level of maturity.
“She knows how to play the game,” Linehan continued. “She has a great ability to control the ball and play under pressure and work with others. She’s learned how to play at a younger age and has developed … She’s a player you build a program around.”
Linehan predicted Sowa will be the first of multiple seniors from this year’s 14-0 squad who will play Division I soccer in college.
“It kind of tells you where our program is going and it will continue to grow,” Linehan said. “A soccer player at Southington now needs to play year round. I told the girls after the last game that next year’s season starts tomorrow.”