Leaders come in all shapes and sizes. Woodland junior Alexa Casimiro is the type that leads by example.
The center/midfielder and one of the captains of the Woodland girls soccer team helped guide the Hawks to a 16-5 record in the fall and a trip to the NVL championship game. She was named the team’s MVP this season.
“Alexa is the kind of player that every coach wants to have on their team,” Woodland head coach Cait Witham said. “She always puts the team first and wants to improve her game anyway she can.”
Casimiro has been honing her soccer skills and building her confidence playing for the premier team Academica FC since she was 11 years old. Last month, the Prospect resident got the opportunity to showoff her skills on the international level and embarked on a journey that has forever changed her life.
Casimiro played for the U-17 Region 1 team in Germany from Feb. 13-22.
“It was truly unbelievable,” Casimiro said. “Definitely the greatest experience I’ve had in my life.”
Region I covers the northeastern United States. The Region 1 team starts out with players making the ODP, Olympic Development Program State team. Then the players go on to a regional camp, and those players who successfully come out of the camp go on to play international competition in various locations.
Casimiro was the only female player from Connecticut chosen for the team, according to a news release. The Woodland Hawk left her mark on German soil, scoring a goal in the second game of the tour.
“It felt so awesome to score a goal in the second official game we played,” she said. “As a team we did quite well. We won two games, tied one and lost one. So, I think for the most part we held our own against some pretty stiff competition.”
Casimiro traveled to Germany with her mother, Kara, and her younger sister, Julia, who will be entering Woodland in the fall. There was a scrimmage followed by three official games on the agenda along with sightseeing opportunities in Luxemburg, Dusseldorf and France.
“Having my mom and sister there was just as exciting for them to see me play,” Casimiro said. “The team had to stay together, but we did see our families that traveled with us on game days and on the sightseeing adventures.”
Along the way, Casimiro made some new friends from Region 1 and Germany that she plans to stay in contact with, saw a professional German team play and gained a different perspective on the sport.
“Germany played a different kind of game, more of a technical game as opposed to the game we play in the U.S., which is more physical,” she said.
The opportunity was one Casimiro, who has already made a verbal commitment to play Division I soccer at the University of Connecticut, said she would definitely love to do again. The trip also offered her the chance to improve her own skill set heading into next season.
“I’m so excited that she got this opportunity to play overseas. I think an experience like this will help to elevate her game as she goes into her senior year,” Witham said. “She sees the field real well and played a major role in our offense, but I can’t wait to see how this experience will add to her confidence level on the field.”
Casimiro added, “I’m already looking forward to seeing how I can use this experience to better my game. This trip has taught me the importance of using speed and better communication to improve the team’s overall play. These are lessons I can’t wait to share with my Woodland teammates as we prepare for the upcoming season in the fall.”