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Newtown High Athletes Set To Bring Their Games To The Division I Level



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Newtown High School sports may be on hold once again, but some of Newtown High School’s athletes have plans for continuing their careers at the collegiate level — including five who, this past fall, signed National Letters of Intent to play Division I sports.

Emma Magazu, who missed her junior year due to the impact of the coronavirus canceling spring sports last year and sat out most of her senior year soccer season due to injury, has her eyes set on a return to the playing field. Magazu, also hopeful of a return to sports this school year, plans to play lacrosse at the University of New Hampshire next year.

“I am really looking forward to going to UNH. I love the school and program. I am excited to finally meet everyone and continue to play lacrosse,” Magazu said.

Focusing all of her athletics attention on lacrosse will be a change of pace for Magazu, who played not only lacrosse and soccer but also basketball at NHS.

“I’ll be going from three seasonal sports to one year round, so I expect the lacrosse to be more focused and a higher level of competition,” she said.

Magazu is looking forward to the challenges and excitement of elevating her game to the next level, but will miss her days as a Nighthawk. “I made some of my closest friends not only through lacrosse but through my other sports. One of my most memorable moments was winning [the South-West Conference championship] for both soccer and basketball,” she said.

One of Magazu’s teammates throughout the years is Shea Murphy, who also laced up the soccer cleats and basketball sneakers, and played lacrosse. And, just like Magazu, Murphy will bring her lacrosse game to a higher level of competition as her education and athletics careers continue at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga.

“I am looking forward to continuing to play lacrosse at Kennesaw so much because it has always been what I wanted to do, and I am so glad that it worked out the way that it did. Kennesaw is the perfect place for me academically and athletically and I can’t wait to play with my new teammates. The recruiting process was very different this year, but it all worked out how it was supposed to,” Murphy said.

Murphy explained that, due to her junior lacrosse season being canceled last spring, she had to send video of her sophomore highlights to coaches. Because of coronavirus protocol, meetings with coaches were done virtually, she added.

“Playing in college will be very different because I am so used to playing multiple sports in different seasons. But I am really looking forward to being able to focus on lacrosse year round and train for it properly in every season. It will definitely be more challenging than high school lacrosse, but that is exactly what I am excited for and ready for,” Murphy said.

For some, it is the games that stand out the most. For Murphy, it is about getting there, like the old saying, “It’s not the destination but the journey.”

“I am really going to miss the bus rides and pasta parties with my friends and teammates. The best part about being on a team is what goes on behind the scenes and the bus rides to games where we are all singing and laughing together are some of my favorite memories,” Murphy said.

Katie Goyda will take her field hockey skills to Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I., and is excited for the next four years. “I can’t wait to play with new friends and coaches,” said Goyda, who also played softball for the Nighthawks.

“I am definitely expecting it to be different than high school sports. You are surrounded by the best players from teams around the country. It will be more intense but I can’t wait for the opportunities I will be exposed to,” she added.

Championships and postseason competitions often stand out among the best memories for athletes but, for Goyda, it was a regular-season contest that stands out — that and some off-the-field team activities.

“One of my favorite memories from field hockey is when we beat New Milford the first time we played them this season because everyone was so excited and pumped up for the game. My other favorite memories come from the team bonding aspects like pasta parties and poster making,” Goyda said.

From the fields (and the always popular off-field pasta parties) to the pool, where Caroline Mahoney has made a splash and will dive in at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass.

“I am extremely looking forward to continuing my swimming career at Holy Cross because it is the perfect place to take my academics and athletics to the next level. I also think it’s going to be a lot of fun having the opportunity to swim on a team with such a great group of people,” Mahoney said.

“I expect it to be more work because you have to be much more disciplined and dedicated, all on your own terms, on top of having the most independence I will experience yet being away from home,” she added.

Mahoney said her favorite memories from high school swimming came in the championship meets at the end of the season, “because it was so much fun to compete one last time each season with everyone on the team.”

Jack Petersen, a three-sport standout at Newtown High, will continue his spring passion of baseball at the University of Connecticut, joining his brother Todd on the diamond.

“Joining him there — I’m really excited,” Petersen said.

The NHS senior looks forward to the challenges of taking his game to the next level and is excited to create some lasting sports memories, as he did at Newtown High on the soccer fields in the fall, basketball court in the winter, and baseball field each spring.

Most recently, Petersen helped the soccer team capture the South-West Conference North Division championship with a goal and solid defensive play in a 4-1 triumph over New Milford which capped an undefeated campaign.

“This is the biggest game of my life. This is by far my favorite memory,” said Petersen at the time, adding that what made the soccer team’s title run all the more memorable was “the chemistry we had and the way we went about our business.”

Next year, these NHS athletes will go about their sports-playing business a bit differently, and they will be missed by their coaches and NHS Athletic Director Matt Memoli.

“I am incredibly proud of all of the student athletes. Not only are they outstanding athletes but they are outstanding students and people. Having taught them when they were back in seventh grade and seeing them progress until now has been extremely rewarding,” said Memoli, who taught physical education to these Division I-bound athletes at the middle school.

“I feel like it is just the beginning for them in terms of their athletic career. The hard work, dedication, and time to succeed at the collegiate level will be tremendous but I know they are all up for the challenge. Along with them we have so many other student athletes who will be going on to play in college as well and they will all be honored at the end of the year,” said Memoli, referring to athletes who plan to compete at the Division II and III levels.

Watch for coverage of these other athletes as The Bee continues to highlight college-bound athletes.

—Shea Murphy contributed to this article

Newtown High School athletes who signed their National Letters of Intent to play sports at the Division I collegiate level next year are, from left: Emma Magazu, Shea Murphy, Todd Petersen, Caroline Mahoney, and Katie Goyda.
Emma Magazu, left, defends during a game in 2019.
Shea Murphy makes a move past defenders in 2019.
Katie Goyda, right, makes a move on a defender on her way to the goal.
Caroline Mahoney races in the backstroke event.
Jack Petersen competes in youth baseball during the 2017 season.
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