By Larry Kelley
| For the bulletin

The pandemic did not completely wipe out the 2020 state girls’ soccer season as it did for soccer that didn’t play traditional tackle games.

But while soccer teams enjoyed a sneak peek of action – starting October 1 for a limited schedule with an ECC postseason experience – the shortened campaign bore no resemblance to a normal season.

After a rousing opening win against powerhouse East Lyme, NFA had to close for three weeks due to rising COVID cases in Norwich. The Wildcats were limited to five games.

A strong Plainfield team was limited to seven games (7-0 record) and no post-season experience as most of the teams in its “bubble” were closed due to virus concerns.

So while the pandemic is not quite behind us, CIAC Fall Sports offers a full schedule of mask-free outdoor play, including ECC and state tournaments.

While an almost new line-up of players will greet fans at the Games, there are some talented, seasoned players returning this fall.

Here are 10 girls’ soccer “Players to Watch” in 2021.

Casey Beauregard, JR., M, Killingly: Killingly actually played 11 games last year, going 9-1-1 and winning the ECC Region III title with a 2-1 win over Woodstock. Beauregard, a midfielder, helped scoop the winning goal and was named Best Player by Killingly. As a newcomer in 2019, she scored a total of five goals and two assists.

Karley Belisle, Sr., M, Plainfield: Belisle joined the Connecticut Girls Soccer Association Class M all-state team as a junior in 2020. Belisle had five goals and two assists as a junior midfielder, having contributed four goals and four assists in 2019.

Taylor Biowolas, Sr., F, Griswold: For Wolverines, Senior is a dangerous goal presence on the net.

Caitlin Dailey, Sr., G, Norwich Free Academy: Perhaps the best returning goalkeeper in the ECC, the 5-10 Daley has the size, hands and leadership skills to control the nets.

Hannah Daniewicz, SR., F, Norwich Free Academy: The Wildcat senior striker scored six goals in his sophomore year and added a few more in the NFA’s limited action last year, including two goals and an assist in the 5-0 win over East Lyme.

More: 10 boys’ football ‘Players to Watch’ in 2021

Rosalyn Iozzi, Sr., G / D, Ellis Tech: One of the few players with travel soccer experience on the team, Iozzi shuttled between goalkeeper and full-back to help Ellis Tech win two games in his first college season last fall.

Jannelle Lambert, JR., M, Norwich Tech / Holy Family: As a newcomer in 2019, Lambert led the team in scoring. Their three goals accelerated the Warriors’ first ever state tournament win in a 4-3 first-round M-class triumph over Goodwin Tech.

Sophia Moore, SR., D, Killingly: One of the state’s top defenders and a huge part of the program resurgence.

Lindsey Price, SR., MID, Plainfield: The senior midfielder is the top holdover from Plainfield’s 2019 ECC Champions squad and a Class M finalist. The midfielder was inducted into the ECC Division II first team after scoring nine goals with two assists in 2019. Last year she added four goals and four assists. The Panthers don’t quite have the sibling-dominated looks of the three consecutive state final teams (2017, 2018, 2019) when twins and sisters dominated the roster. But with Price patrolling midfield, coach Jon Zielinski should continue the youngest dynasty.

Stephanie St. Jean, JR., F, Plainfield: St Jean stepped in to replace the Carleson twins’ scoring skills, becoming the second striker to score a team with seven goals and four assists last year.