by Matthew Ondesko, Managing Editor
Photos: Geoff Schneider/Sports Union Confidence is a huge factor when it comes to excelling in anything in life. The more confident a person feels about themselves, or the situation, the better they will perform. If their confidence is shattered early on it could mean an uphill battle. When it comes to playing sports, the more confidence a person is the better. Sometimes an athletes needs to border on being cocky, it’s the only way they can success on a new team - and in new surroundings. Mount Mercy Academy senior Gianna Lauciello knew for her to succeed with the Magic that it would come down to confidence as soon as she stepped on the pitch. As her career grew, so did her confidence in herself. Lauciello has had a stellar career at Mt. Mercy, earning All-Catholic honors, and a host of other accolades during her four year career. She was one of the main reasons why the Magic went to back-to-back Class B titles games - eventually losing to Cardinal O’Hara both times. “I’ve learned that confidence and compassion is key. I played on a couple teams in the past that had treated me unfairly and stripped me of my confidence, which in my eyes set me back in my skill and made me more timid,” stated Lauciello. “Now that I’m more confident, I approach every game with a more positive outlook and can focus more on teaching others new skills. I’ve also learned that compassion and good sportsmanship is always important on and off the field because having a positive, kind energy helps everyone to work together.”
It wasn’t always like that for Lauciello. She remembers the first time she stepped on the pitch as a timid freshman four years ago, and just trying to find her way. She remembers not wanting to make a mistake and have everyone blame her for a loss - if that should happen. It’s not easy being a freshman on a team filled with upperclassmen. Lauciello had to navigate her way that first year - trying to gain confidence as she went on. Her coaches made sure to remind her that her spot was earned and not given. “The first time I stepped on the field for Mercy I was so intimidated, not only by the other team but also of the upperclassmen on my own team! I was so nervous that I would mess up, but I remember my coach telling me that on the field I wasn't a freshman and that I earned my spot on the team,” stated Lauciello. “Now, as I step on the field as a senior I'm definitely a lot more confident in myself and my skill, and I love to encourage underclassmen to own up to their potential too.” Lauciello has definitely lived up to her potential her last four years. She has grown into the role that the coaches has ben given her on the field, and she has grown into a leader as well. The last two seasons have seen Lauciello grow as a leader on the pitch. She went from the timid freshman not wanting to make a mistakes to now showing the younger players on the team how to be a winner. “Throughout these last four years, especially the last two as captain, I have learned from my coaches and fellow teammates how to be a leader,” stated Lauciello. “I have always been pretty quiet, but being put in this position of leadership, I learned the importance of encouragement and positivity on and off the field. I always want to try my best to be a good role model and someone that my teammates can look up to.” Her teammates know that when Lauciello is on the pitch she is going to give it her all. The Magic have steadily improved over the past couple of years and Lauciello is one of the main reasons why.
She has helped the younger players in the squad get accustomed to what it’s like to play varsity soccer. Her determination on the pitch is second to known. To Lauciello it doesn’t matter who the Magic are the playing there is always a sense that her team will come out on top. It’s that kind of mentality that rubs off on the younger players on the team. They see that she isn’t the tallest player out on the pitch. Her teammates also see that she will fight for every 50/50 ball that comes her way. “When I step on the field, I am determined to win and I have faith in my team to keep up high energy and play at 110 percent. I’m looking for ways we can improve on our skills as well as making sure to acknowledge when a good play is made or someone makes a good shot,” stated Lauciello. “Winning the 50/50 balls is definitely a challenge since I'm so short, but I use my strength and speed to get in front of the other player and get to the ball first. We work on a lot of one v one drills at practice that incorporate this idea and help us to not be as afraid of the ball. When playing on the field, you need to be able to visualize the plays and try to predict where the ball is going to go next. This definitely takes a lot of experience and communication to be able to adapt to different styles of play quickly.” While it’s not the ending that Mt. Mercy had hoped for (losing 1-0 to Cardinal O’Hara), Lauciello is still happy to be able to spend her senior year with her teammates. Because of the pandemic there was uncertainty the season would even be played. The fact the Magic were able to get in 12 regular season games and playoffs made this senior year extra special, and something that Lauciello will cherish for a long time. “Coming into the season with the right mentality was vital especially with Covid. There were new restrictions and the season was condensed and different then what we were used to, but we needed to keep reminding ourselves that we were happy to even have the season,” stated Lauciello. “This year has been so incredibly special to me, especially since I was worried for months that we would not be given a season. I think everyone on the team is just so appreciative to be here and we make the best out of every practice and game.”