By STEVE GEOGHEGAN Hour Staff Writer
NORWALK — The George Kutrubis now compared to the George Kutrubis three years ago is like night and day.
As a freshman for the Norwalk High boys soccer team, Kutrubis was always the easiest person to pick out because he was usually the smallest one on the field most days, standing in at 4-foot-11 and weighing 90 pounds soaking wet. Over time, though, he’s matured into a 5-foot-9, 155-pound solid midfielder who leads his team on and off the field.
“My growth spurt happened last year,” he said. “I guess I was a late bloomer. My coach (Chris Laughton) told me it was going to happen but I didn’t believe him. Now the game has come easier and I have different roles on the team than I did when I was a freshman.”
Kutrubis has matured into a top-notch player and leader for the Bears and has garnered attention from schools but recently decided to make a verbal commitment to play at the University of Connecticut.
Laughton said Kutrubis has certainly progressed since he was a wide-eyed freshman who is one of the final links to Norwalk’s 2012 state championship, along with Tyler Dalton and Loizos Karaiskos.
“He’s become a man,” the coach said. “Now he’s much more of physical presence and his attitude has changed. He’s definitely taken the constructive criticism, worked on his game and improved. It’s a credit to him and the hard work he’s done.”
Laughton added that Kutrubis is a possession-oriented player who moves off the ball well and now that he’s grown, he’s added a new element to his game in the way he defends.
“I’m able to shield people off the ball off corners and guard my man on the other team,” Kutrubis explained. “When I was a freshman I usually just guarded the post (off corners).”
The senior captain hit the weight room over the summer to get stronger and he first came into the sights of the Huskies during a week-long ID camp while turning in his best performance on the final day. Kutrubis said they talked to him afterwards and things progressed from there so when it came down to deciding which school, the choice was easy.
“It’s always been a dream of mine since I was a little kid to go and play there. It’s exciting,” said Kutrubis, whose sister Efthimia is a (redshirt) sophomore forward on the highly-successful field hockey team at the school. “I’ve been to UConn over 12 times and I see her games and I know some kids on the soccer team already who went to Norwalk High.”
As far as what kind of impact he make, Kutrubis said he’s confident in his abilities but could still take a redshirt year to better prepare himself for the rigors of the collegiate game. Laughton said time will tell of his role with the Huskies as he starts to understand their style of play and expectations.
“He’s very adaptable and I think he’ll be fine,” the coach said. “(Playing at UConn) is somewhere he’s always wanted to play and it’s been a dream of his so I’m really happy for him that everything has come to fruition.”
Kutrubis joins Santiago Muriel and Nick Zuniga as current members of the Huskies who also played at Norwalk.
Muriel was a senior when Kutrubis was a freshman and Kutrubis said he looked up to those seniors like Muriel who led the team to great heights.
“It was really great playing with him, he taught me a lot and it’s going to be an honor to play with him again,” he said. “I learned a lot from that (state championship) team; the whole pace of the game, they took me under their wing and they taught me how to play. Everything was from them pretty much how I am today.”
In addition, Kutrubis will be joined by McMahon’s Niko Petridis, who also gave UConn a verbal commitment the same time as Kutrubis.
“It’s going to be great,” Kutrubis said. “We’ve played on the same team when we were little (NJSA Travel 8-11) and we also played on the Beachside (U-12) premier. We’re great friends and grew up together.”
Kutrubis will join many former Norwalk High players in the collegiate ranks with Laughton saying there are 22 currently playing at the next level this fall.