CLIFTON PARK — When Ava Caputo lost her softball season last spring after just four days of practice due to restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic, the three-sport athlete at Shenendehowa was left with plenty of time to wonder when she’d next get to compete on any of her school’s sports teams.
“I just learned to enjoy every minute of playing,” Caputo, a senior, said earlier this week. “You never really know when something can be taken away and it’s out of your control.”
Caputo is one of 12 seniors on the Shenendehowa girls’ soccer team this fall, one of 14 returners on a squad of 27.
“It just makes me want to work harder,” Caputo said during the preseason of the Plainsmen’s extra-large roster.
That hard work was rewarded in the Plainsmen’s first game of the season when Caputo scored the only goal in a 1-0 Shenendehowa win last Saturday against Guilderland.
“I was running down the sidelines and I saw Maggie [Partlow] had the breakaway and I was like, she’s going to cross it,” Caputo said. “It came across, and I was just 1-on-1 with the goalie — and, I was like, ‘I’ve got this.’”
Her hard work during the sports hiatus due to COVID-19 paid off. During the summer she focused on strength training ahead of a senior year Caputo wants to fill with a fall soccer season, an indoor track campaign in the winter and a softball season in the spring.
“The whole quarantine situation really allowed me to work individually,” Caputo said. “You have to find that motivation to put in the effort even though you may not have a teammate to do it with you or other people to encourage you to do it.”
As the COVID-19 curve was flattened, Caputo was able to return to the softball field and get in a few club tournaments this summer, a priority as Caputo looks to be recruited as a second baseman/pitcher in college.
Back competing for her school this fall in soccer, Caputo helped Shenendehowa to a 0-0 tie Tuesday against Shaker in Suburban Council play. Shenendehowa’s dozen seniors were honored before that game as part of the program’s senior night.
Shenendehowa, 1-0-1 on the season, is scheduled to face Columbia Saturday on the road in East Greenbush. There will be no Section II or state playoffs this fall because of changes made due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the Suburban Council is planning an end-of-season tournament for its teams.
Caputo said that the promise of a league postseason offers plenty of motivation for the Plainsmen.
“We’re all working toward that tournament for the end of the season,” Caputo said. “It [provides] more of a fire for everyone to give their all and work toward still being the top team.”