Motivated for success
by Matthew Ondesko, Managing Editor
Photos: Geoff Schneider/Sports Union
It has been a year of change for Mount Mercy Academy soccer player Maddie Edwards.
The junior saw her sophomore season cut short due to an injury. When she returned to the team in September, Edwards saw that she had a different position.
For the first two years, Edwards was a stout defender for the Magic. She was tasked at shutting down the opposing teams best players. As she entered her junior year, Edwards was asked to now score the goals instead of stopping them.
It was a big change for Edwards, and one that she embraced form the very beginning. It was that type of team first mentality that helped the Magic reach the Monsignor Martin Class B title game for the second year in a row, before losing to Cardinal O’Hara 1-0 in the final.
“Previously, I was always a defensive player, but this year I found myself playing forward more which I absolutely loved,” stated Edwards. “There is a bit of pressure and feeling that your team is relying on you to score, though, which sometimes made me a bit nervous. Unfortunately, there were times when I felt like a lost game was my fault because I was expected to score while playing. However, as long as I knew I played to the best of my ability, I didn’t feel too down about it.”
Being a goal scorer is not an easy task. There is a lot of pressure on the person to lead the line and score goals to help the team win. While the rest of the Magic players, and coaches, didn’t put that type of pressure on Edwards, she still felt it at times.
While Edwards said the game of soccer isn’t mentality draining on her, she did admit to the game getting inside her head at times. Goal scorers are a streaky bunch They could easy go off and score in four or five straight games, and also not score in a handful of games.
You have to be mentality strong to withstand those types of ebbs and flows throughout a season, and Edwards has proven she is.
“Personally, I don’t find soccer to be very mentally draining, but of course there are moments when it gets in my head,” stated Edwards I try my best to not judge myself on my mistakes, but sometimes it gets hard. Being a self-critic is probably the most mentally draining part of soccer, but I think it’s really important to remain positive while playing.”
Being able to play this year was a bonus in itself. No one knew what the season was going to bring when the summer turned to fall. While the season started later (about a month) than normal, Edwards was just happy to be able to get on the field and join her teammates.
Teammates that have become a lot closer over the years. The Magic have become more of a family as they look to recapture some of the past glories when they would routinely hang with the likes of Nardin, Sacred Heart, Nichols and Mount St. Mary Academy.
“Being able to go into school in September was a big surprise to me so I couldn’t believe it when I found out that the soccer season was still on. I was thrilled though because it was something I had been looking forward to especially since my season last year was cut short due to an injury. Playing soccer is something that I find a lot of pleasure in so being able to play this year really helped take my mind off of the Covid situation we’re all facing,” stated Edwards. “Since I was a freshman, this soccer team has always been super close. Even as new players join and former players leave, our connection continuously stays solid. I’m so grateful for all of my teammates and I think as time goes on, we begin to work even better together.”
With a truncated season, that meant a lot of games in a short amount time. While some teams just played a league schedule with one non-league game mixed in, Mt. Mercy tried to play as many games as they could fit on a schedule.
That meant at times playing three or four games in a given week. While the non-league games helped the Magic get ready for the Monsignor Martin season, it also meant the girls needed to be physically fit for 14 games in 30 days.
That’s where the offseason program came in for Edwards, While she was recovering from her injury, Edwards was still doing all the offseason work that was required of her, and her teammates, by the coaching staff.
“Of course, under this year’s circumstances we had to adapt to the multiple games every week. Although it became a bit exhausting, I just made sure I was having fun while doing so. Having laughs with my teammates on the field was honestly what kept me mentally fresh. Even if it was our third game in a row, we always stayed pumped up which I think helped our mentalities throughout the season,” stated Edwards. “During the off-season, our coaches gave us a workout calendar which I followed just about every day. This really helped me prepare and strengthen my endurance for the season. It was a great way to start our conditioning early since some of us missed out on our summer league season.”
Like most Magic soccer players, Edwards has flown under the radar during her first three years. When she entered the doors as a freshman, Edwards played as many sports as she could. Besides soccer, she also played basketball and softball.
That was a lot of sports in a short amount of time, and no really down time. She felt a little overwhelmed and exhausted at times, and decided to just stick to soccer after her freshman year.
It has paid off as Edwards is one of the go to players on the team.
“My freshman year, I played basketball and softball to keep me in shape for soccer, but I found that it became too much to handle,” stated Edwards. “So I decided to only stick with soccer and I have no regrets about that decision. I’m glad I kept my main focus on soccer because I really believe it has helped me improve my skills.”
Her skills have improved as a leader as well. A role that Edwards has slowly grown in to. She got a little taste of what it’s like to be a leader, and an upperclassmen, this year. With the program not fielding a junior varsity team, there is no feeder system for the school.
A lot of these freshman that enter have to find their way onto the varsity on the fly. Edwards made sure she was there for the underclassmen just like the upperclassmen where there for her when she was a freshman.
As she thinks toward her senior season, she knows she will have big shoes to fill, but is up to the challenge.
“Being a junior, I found that I needed to start setting a good example for my younger teammates. The biggest advice I give to the girls is to just stay positive throughout every game and practice. It’s impossible to have fun if you aren’t keeping your head up and enjoying the game. Even when we’re down, we have to make sure we are loving every moment of playing soccer.” stated Edwards. “Being a senior next year will definitely mean I have some big shoes to fill since our seniors this year were so amazing. They taught me and my fellow junior teammates what it’s like to be a leader. The expectations I’ll be giving myself are to lead with positivity, strength, and motivation. I want my teammates to be able to enjoy their season and know that they have the power to achieve any soccer goal, figuratively and literally! As a senior, I also want any incoming players to feel welcome and comfortable on their new team.”
If there is one thing that is motivating Edwards this offseason is that loss to O’Hara. The Hawks have won the Class B title two years in a row, and the Magic are still chasing that elusive first soccer title in school history.
They have been close many times, but just haven’t been able to get over the hump. The loss to O’Hara is something that Edwards will be thinking about until next season.
“ Our final game in our season was an unfortunate loss, but I know that next year we will be able to win the championship title. Our loss this year helped us to focus on ours and O'Hara's strengths and weaknesses in the chance that we end up facing them again next season,” stated Edwards. “I’m motivated to finally get the win that we have been working so hard to try and achieve. I believe in our team that we have the ability to do it.”