When Tory Bike arrived at St. Joseph High School, she was better known to others as Jenna Bike’s little sister.
That view was not shared by Jack Nogueira, the Cadets’ girls soccer coach.
“With me it was never she was Jenna’s sister,” Nogueira said. “She has her own qualities that are different from Jenna.”
It didn’t take long for Bike to quickly shed the label of being the younger sibling of the state’s two-time Gatorade Player of the Year.
“Definitely when I came in freshman year, before I started playing, everyone was like ‘Oh, you’re Jenna’s sister,’ ” Bike said. “We got separated more as we got older. She’s a forward and I’m in the back. We’re very different players but it was definitely big shoes to fill. There was a lot of pressure but it got easier as time went on and also it was better for me because it made me want to work harder and create a name for myself.”
Bike has done all that and more. She was one of the state’s premier defenders last fall, helping the Cadets win their second straight state title. With the days until the beginning of practice winding down, and a number of key starters back, Bike is ready to play an even greater leadership role as the team sets out to go for a three-peat and she and the other seniors attempt to fill their one glaring void: an FCIAC title.
“I think we have very high expectations,” Bike said. “We definitely want to go out and win FCIACs, we haven’t done it yet and we have a lot of good freshmen coming in so we will be ready this year.”
Nogueira said the traits that have earned Bike acclaim were apparent when she first stepped on the field for the Cadets.
“First is her determination and second is her tenacity and work rate and the last thing is she has developed very good technical skills the last three years,” Nogueira said. “She’s a good defender, she’s very committed, she’s a great leader, very vocal; all her teammates tend to gravitate to her in that regard. I’m just very happy with her performance, very happy with her attitude and very happy with her leadership.”
The Cadets last won a conference championship in 2013, a 1-0 win over Wilton on a goal by Jenna Bike. They reached the finals the last two years, losing to Ridgefield both times.
Bike said the setbacks planted the seeds for the pair of Class L title runs. Last year the Cadets were dominant, especially on defense. They won their four games by an 11-1 margin, toppling Masuk in the final, 4-0.
“It was definitely tough with FCIACs, but after that we knew we wanted to go out and win a state championship again,” Bike said. “That season was tough. They said we lost a lot of people and weren’t going to be as good so we wanted to prove people wrong.”
The Cadets have lost several starters to graduation, most notably 30-goal scorer Lindsey Savko. But Bike is part of a strong returning cast, which includes midfielder Jessica Mazo, considered by many the league’s best player, and goalkeeper Veronica O’Rourke. There is also a strong group of freshmen who could make an immediate impact.
“I’m just excited to be a senior this year,” Bike said. “I’ve always been vocal back there, I’ve had to be a leader back there even when I started there freshman year, and this year it will be good with all the freshmen actually being a leader.”
Jenna Bike was an age-group national team player and is about to begin her sophomore season playing for Boston College.
“She’s definitely been a big influence,” Bike said. “As a player not as much because we’re different positions on the field, but we are always working out and pushing each other in practices. I can defend against her, which is helpful.”
Bike gave a verbal commitment as a sophomore to play at Rhode Island.
“I really enjoyed the school and then went to the camps and thought it was a great fit for me,” she said.
Nogueira said given the complexion of this year’s team, Bike will have the chance to play as an important a role off the field as on it.
“We’re going to be young, we have three or freshmen coming in I’m hoping are going to contribute,” Nogueira said. “If that’s the case she’s going to have to lead them with the other seniors. She’s not just a big, strong, hard defender. She can get away from pressure when she needs to and she can pass the ball very, very well.”
Bike said she welcomes the added responsibility.
“I like to be vocal, know everything that is going on around me, talk to the other defenders,” Bike said. “I’m very excited for the season.”