New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)

A sisters act

Duos help turn Branford into SCC contender

- By Joe Morelli

Kendall Infantino has played with many different soccer players since taking up the sport at age 3.

But not until last month, Sept. 11 did Infantino, a senior at Branford High, actually play on the same team in a regular-season game with her younger sister, Bryce, now a freshman at the high school.

“I was like, ‘Well this is awesome.’ Having my sister here on the team brought us a lot closer, both on and off the field,” Kendall said. “Last year, she came to every game and was my biggest supporter. Our dynamic is so much better now because we have more in common.”

The Infantinos are not the only sister combo on Branford’s roster. The Ferrie sisters, Ava and Tess, are also an integral part of the Hornets’ success thus far.

“I see her as both (a teammate and sister). I feel like we have a better connection each time we play together,” Ava said. “Soccer is our bond. We understand each other more on the field.”

Ava also noted that despite being a grade apart — Ava is a junior, Tess a sophomore — they don’t share any classes together.

So soccer is the bond for the sisters. All four start and have made significan­t contributi­ons to Branford’s 5-2-1 mark.

“I had both Infantinos in the Little Hornets (soccer

team) when they were 5 years old, so to see them from there to now is amazing,” Branford coach Jen Kohut said. “I’ve had sisters through the years, maybe six or seven sets, but never had two sets on the same team.”

You hear the phrase in baseball or softball: strength up the middle is key to success. Those four soccer players are in those key positions.

It starts with Kendall Infantino anchoring the defense at the center-back position. She normally gets the ball to either one of two people: her sister Bryce at the holding center-midfielder position, or Ava Ferrie at the attacking center-mid.

Then it’s usually Ferrie to Ferrie, Ava to Tess, up top at forward for a goal.

“We always work together. We know where each other is going to be and know how each other plays,” Ava said. “Other people around us know how we play together.”

Ava remembers what it was like when Tess joined the Hornets last year.

“She was like a ball of energy. She lifts the team’s spirit up. She is very outgoing. She is ready to play and very excited,” Ava said.

Ava was asked to move to the center-midfielder position at the beginning of last season - a position she had never played. It takes time to be able to transition from defense to offense, then find the right person to send the pass to.

But she has succeeded. Tess Ferrie scored the only goal in the SCC Division B semifinals at Hand last November. Then last month, both Ferries scored in a 2-1 win over Hand.

“It takes a lot of patience and control (to play centermid), receiving the ball when you are in the middle and everyone is coming on you,” Ava said. “It’s a challenge. I always played striker. So I took a chance and now, I like it.”

Said Kohut: “She always knows where (Tess) is no matter what. Tess in return knows Ava will get the ball to the corner, so ‘I need to be there.’ I heard them in a Hand game. It went like, ‘Tess, make a run.’ She did say that and they will get on each other a little bit. That is the great thing about (the Ferries) is how competitiv­e they are.”

Ava said in her first year she was “a scared little freshman. My sister knew how I was my freshman year, so she knew what to expect.”

Kendall is on the watch list for the High School Soccer All-American Game. She led a defense that pitched eight shutouts and allowed just seven goals to earn a spot on the New Haven Register all-area girls soccer team, in addition to a coaches all-state selection.

Now Bryce is often a recipient of one of her older sister’s passes.

“Whenever she gets the ball, it’s like, ‘That’s my sister.’ I get excited and I am proud of her,” Kendall Infantino said. “She has proven herself to everyone.”

Getting through last season was a success in itself due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But Branford had success in the postseason as well, defeating Hand on the road in the division tournament semifinals.

Then the Hornets took Guilford into overtime in the final. But Guilford scored in sudden-death overtime, leaving a bitter taste on the trip home for the Hornets.

“Last year, we had it in our hands,” Ava said. “We used it as motivation going forward, setting a goal to have for the season (to win a title).”

Said Kendall Infantino: “Obviously, it was upsetting way it ended, but my thought was really, ‘On to the next season.’”

Branford is a league title contender this season. It will take the entire team to win the SCC — a stated goal — but you can bet the two sister combos will be at the forefront of any success the team has in November.

“To me Kendall is a Division I player and Ava is a Division I player,” Kohut said. “The sky is the limit for those four girls.”

 ?? Joe Morelli / Hearst Connecticu­t Media ?? Pictured clockwise, from top left: Kendall Infantino, Ava Ferrie, Tess Ferrie and Bryce Infantino have helped lead the Branford girls soccer team this season.
Joe Morelli / Hearst Connecticu­t Media Pictured clockwise, from top left: Kendall Infantino, Ava Ferrie, Tess Ferrie and Bryce Infantino have helped lead the Branford girls soccer team this season.

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