2021 Gazette Girls Soccer Player of the Year: Avery Klingensmith, Belchertown

  • Belchertown’s Avery Klingensmith, shown here earlier this season against Amherst, is the 2021 Daily Hampshire Gazette Girls Soccer Player of the Year. FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 1/4/2022 5:45:47 PM
Modified: 1/4/2022 5:45:07 PM

Odds are if you drove through Belchertown this past summer early in the morning, you might have seen a lone figure on the soccer field, running drills and firing balls into the back of an empty net. If you know anything about Belchertown soccer, it’s not difficult to guess who it was – senior Avery Klingensmith.

Klingensmith needed that dedication and determination this season in particular; a fall that rode more like a rollercoaster than your typical soccer season. Klingensmith, along with her fellow seniors, led a mix of newcomers and returners to the Orioles’ first Western Mass. title since 2012, and the first of Klingensmith’s career. Belchertown kept its foot on the gas and cruised all the way to the MIAA Final Four, where the Orioles fell to eventual Division 3 champion Norwell.

Throughout all that success, however, Klingensmith was dealing with an ankle sprain that took her off the field and, eventually, moved her to more of an offensive role rather than playing the midfield like she usually does.

It was a memorable season to close the book on Klingensmith’s high school soccer career. She’s the Daily Hampshire Gazette’s 2021 Girls Soccer Player of the Year.

“It was really awesome, especially with not really having the winning in the other years,” Klingensmith said on her final season. “The seniors as a group, we’ve always been really close and we had a lot of success with soccer at the youth level. So it was really cool… (to win) Western Mass., and (we) played really well in the state tournament and made it pretty far.”

Klingensmith started playing soccer early, when she was five years old, and quickly fell in love with the sport – and discovered she was pretty good at it, too.

“As I got older, it was something I wanted to pursue and play as many games and on better teams (as) I could,” Klingensmith said.

By second grade, she joined her first club team, and has continued playing at that level as she’s grown older.

“She plays at a higher level on a club team year round,” Belchertown coach Kyle Thibeault said. “But the biggest thing I’ve seen throughout the years is her dedication and the time that she puts into the soccer season for high school, her overall soccer career and schoolwork and everything like that – she’s very dedicated and committed, you know, she’s committed 100-percent all the time.”

Klingensmith will continue to play at that high level beyond high school as well – in November, she signed her National Letter of Intent to play Division I soccer at American University. A naturally competitive person by nature, she wants to play with the best competition, and said she’s looking forward to playing in the Patriot League with the Eagles.

This past season with Belchertown, Klingensmith and the group of current seniors led the Orioles to one of their most successful regular seasons ever. The squad didn’t drop a single contest all year. With 17 wins and five ties, Belchertown dethroned three-time reigning Western Mass. champion South Hadley in the sectional final, earning the coveted title en route to a No. 5 seed in the Division 3 state playoffs. Klingensmith was a key reason that the Orioles earned that Western Mass. title – she drew three defenders toward her in the final before sending a perfect pass to freshman Mia Corish, who buried the game-winner in overtime.

“We played at a different level with Avery on the field, just because she drives defenders to her. You know, she’s a player that can do it all,” Thibeault said. “But you know, she puts the team first in certain situations.”

But behind the scenes, Klingensmith was struggling – with about a month to play, she sprained her ankle, an injury that threatened to end her season on a sour note. Her coaches and training staff paid close attention – after sitting for a while, Klingensmith returned to the pitch, sometimes in a more limited role, and her coaches got creative when it came to making sure she could still be a game-changer while playing at less than 100 percent.

“I know, it was probably frustrating for her, but she made the best of the opportunities that were given in the game,” Thibeault said. “We rotated her from the midfield to forward in order to utilize her and not put as much strain on her.”

It was different for Klingensmith, traditionally a midfielder, to be put into a new role. But playing among a senior class, many of whom she’d competed with at the youth level as far back as second grade, made the transition much smoother for her.

“It was definitely different playing center forward at times, because I had mostly played midfield a lot of my life,” she said. “But having the same people around me… some people that I’ve played with for years, it wasn’t too difficult.”

And even when she wasn’t at her best, Klingensmith was still one of the most dangerous players on the field, as evidenced by her performance in the postseason. It was the senior captain who scored both of the Orioles’ goals in the state quarterfinal, the second in overtime, to propel Belchertown to the Final Four. Though she may have played fewer minutes, she made every second she was on the pitch count.

“We have that level where she can play and have an impact on any program that she goes into. That’s her dedication and her mindset,” Thibeault said. “She does everything at 100-percent and leaves it all out there. It is a special group and she’s one that (has) obviously taken our program to the next level.

Girls Soccer All-StarsFIRST TEAM

Dana Chateauneuf, senior, Granby

Sofia Ciaglo, sophomore, Northampton

Madison Clark, senior, Smith Vocational

Mia Corish, freshman, Belchertown

Chloe Denhart, junior, Northampton

Ella Forest, junior, Hampshire

Tia Fyden, senior, Hopkins Academy

Lily Gleason, senior, Amherst

Ana Growhoski, sophomore, Easthampton

Alexa LaFlamme, senior, Belchertown

Madysen LePage, sophomore, Belchertown

Kayla Lukasiewicz, senior, Hampshire

Elyse Manzi, senior, South Hadley

Lauren Marjanski, sophomore, South Hadley

Aida Name, junior, Belchertown

Gianna Roy, sophomore, South Hadley

Emma Sanford, junior South Hadley

Riley Shaughnessy, junior, Hampshire

Gabrielle Walz, junior, Granby

SECOND TEAM

Maria Belfakih, senior, Easthampton

Maddie Bell, senior, Smith Academy

Fallon Clancy, freshman, Belchertown

Ashley Cunningham, junior, Belchertown

Madelyn Fagan, eighth grade, Smith Academy

Siomara Green, junior, Frontier

Kaiah Gregory, senior, Northampton

Madeline Hockman, freshman, Amherst

Ella Laliberte, junior, Granby

Maggie Lauder, freshman, Smith Vocational

Kacie Levrault, junior, South Hadley

Kaitlyn Mackin, senior, Frontier

Abigail McClaflin, junior, Easthampton

Caitlin Padeck, senior, Easthampton

Parker Pallante, junior, Hampshire

Larissa Riley, senior, Hampshire

Kayia Thomas Rivera, senior, Holyoke

Brie Salomao, senior, Hampshire

Makayla Santos, senior, Frontier

Briana Sosa, senior, Granby

Penelope Villada, senior, Hampshire

HONORABLE MENTION

Drew Alley, sophomore, South Hadley

Jordyn Balint, freshman, South Hadley

Alexi Bonenfant, sophomore, Gateway

Maisie Bowler, sophomore, Hampshire

Maeve Doherty, sophomore, PVCICS

Emma Downer, senior, Easthampton

Anna Dyjach, sophomore, Hopkins Academy

Marlee Higgins, senior, Hopkins Academy

Sienna Hill, senior, Granby

Kayla Klekotka, junior, Granby

Abigail Madru, sophomore, Gateway

Makena Rogalski, sophomore, Hampshire

Maddie Soderbaum, freshman, South Hadley

Maya Tellier, freshman, Belchertown

Molly Zumbruski, junior, Granby


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