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Nardin Academy's Molloy ready for next journey

by Matthew Ondesko: Managing Editor

Photos: Geoff Schneider: Sports Union

Many athletic careers don’t end with the typical Hollywood ending you may see on television. You know the one, where they play in their final game, score the winning bucket, or make the winning shot to win the championship.

Most times, a career that ends may do so by losing their final game. Of course, an athlete wants to go out on top, but a lot of times that isn’t the case.

Nardin Academy soccer player Mary Molloy is one of the best players in Western New York. In what was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Gators turned out to be a run to the finals. Molloy anchored a strong Nardin defense that stymied teams throughout the season.

During the year, they defeated a really good St. Mary’s squad twice, only to meet them again in the finals of the Monsignor Martin championship. Unfortunately, for Molloy, her celebrating on the field for her final game wasn’t meant to be as St. Mary’s won the championship.

Ending the way the season did is always tough for any athlete. The fact that Molloy, and the rest of the seniors, wouldn’t be able to get another shot at a title makes it that much harder to swallow.

“Ending that way was as tough as it gets. We had beaten St. Mary’s twice during the season, and I know they say its hard to beat the same team three times,” stated Molloy. “What makes it hardest is that it was my last season. You don’t go into the game thinking it will be your last. It was so hard walking off the field once it sunk in that was the last time I’d being wearing the Nardin #23, and playing for Frank and playing with that awesome group of girls.”

When the game ends, no athlete wants to look back on what they learned during their time on the court, ice or pitch. It may take a few days to have it really sink in. But, after the sour taste of losing leaves, it’s a lot ease to remember why you singed up to play sports in the first place.

Sports is a way to make life long friends. It’s a chance to maybe step out of your comfort zone and try something new. The memoirs you make from the first time you put on a pair of cleats to now is something that no one can take away from you.

“That is one of my favorite things about high school sports and something I will bring to my college experience. With Club soccer you generally play with your own age group, and the team roster stays pretty consistent year after year. In high school, you bond with older players, but they then graduate and you start over with a fresh group of teammates each year. All four years on my high school teams have been great memories with different sets of teammates. And I look back now at how much I loved playing with those seniors back when I was a young freshman or sophomore, and you learn from them how to pass it forward when you are a senior. That’s how you create a program, and not just a team. My younger sister Caite will be at Nardin next year. I never got to play with her, but I think she will have a sense of this from watching her older sisters all these years. She’ll have the experience of playing two years with our youngest sister (who is a 6th grader now),” explained Molloy. “I will also carry great memories of playing four years for Frank Cotroneo. He has this skill of creating a great team environment, where you love the team, love the players and love the coaches. I get choked up each time since the season ended thinking I won’t be seeing Frank and Papi on my sidelines.”

Molloy’s carrier isn’t over, not by a long shot. Her time at Nardin has ended, but her soccer career is just beginning. Next season, Molloy will be suiting up for DePaul of the Big East. She will be able to test herself against some of the best players in the country, including her older sister who plays at Big East rival Villanova.

Her play on the field, and her work in classroom, made her a hot recruit among colleges and universities throughout the country. But, there was something about playing in the Big East, and Chicago, that just drew her to DePaul.

“Yeah the recruiting process as a whole is an intense thing to go through. I have been familiar with and following Big East soccer for several years, as my sister Brigid plays at Villanova and she was recruited there at a young age. I’m really close with her so I had a front row seat as she went through the process. I kind of targeted several Big East schools early on in my recruiting because the Big East was a conference where I wanted to play. All of the schools have a great mix of really competitive soccer and top academics,” stated Molloy. “What went into my final decision was a combination of things. I really love Michele O’Brien, DePaul’s head coach. I picked up this vibe on my visits that the DePaul teammates totally love each other and love playing for her. That vibe was really powerful when it came time to make my final decision. I also have had this desire to attend college in a big city, and DePaul’s location in Lincoln Park, inside Chicago, was really appealing to me.”

With her talent, there is always a lot of pressure when it comes to choosing the right school at the right time. Lucky for Molloy she had two others sisters that have already gone through the recruiting process to lean on.

Having them gone through the ups and downs of recruiting helped Molloy figure out exactly what she wanted both academically and athletically.

“I had the benefit of two older sisters that play in college at academically challenging schools, and their wisdom how to juggle those two things. Abby is a senior captain and 4-year starter at Canisius College, but also a 4.0 student who has always been super focused on her academics,” stated Molloy. “I learned from watching her go through the recruiting process and making her college choice, and then paying attention to how she has managed being a 4.0 student when she still has so much going on with soccer, and practices, and lift, and fitness, and road games, and the spring season, etc. Not sure how I would have figured it out without Abby and Brigid going through it first.”

As we have said earlier, Molloy is one of the top players in Western New York, not just at her position, but of all of Western New York, She has garnered many awards since the season has come to an end, and they just keep rolling in.

For Molloy, earning these awards just puts a stamp on how great her team was this year Without the entire team doing well, and making it to the finals, the awards wouldn’t be coming in.

“Its always an honor to be selected for year-end awards, especially when its other coaches and people that don’t follow your team every game that are voting for you,” stated Molloy. “It’s rewarding to know that other coaches were aware of me on the field and the role I played for my team, and that I did it well enough to be recognized as one of the best players in the league.”

While most players get recognized for scoring goals, Molloy is being touted as one of the best defenders in the area. Her goal is to shutdown some of the top players in the league, and at times, she makes it look easy.

Molloy knows there is pressure to live up to those expectations, but she doesn’t fall under the weight of those expectations. She goes out every day and just does her job to the best of her abilities and goes on from there. Molloy doesn’t worry about what other people might say.

She just goes out there and players her game.

“This last year at Nardin was nice though because I was able to go forward more often than in the past and score more goals than a defender normally scores. Our freshman forward Rory Kingsley serves a great Corner Kick, so I usually got selfish and did whatever I could to get on the end of her serves and we connected several times for goals. We beat St. Mary’s that way with a goal in the last minute of the game,” stated Molloy. “My experience is that when you are counted on to play a big role for your team, the best thing is to keep things simple and not press to be everything or everywhere. That is especially true for a defensive player. I think the pressure on a defensive player is bigger than the pressure on a forward. Great teams can create a “team offense” meaning you can get contribution from several positions and not rely on one person to play the entire offensive role. But great teams also have amazing individual players that can beat defenders by themselves. When you are a defender, you have to defend against getting beaten or embarrassed 1v1 by a great move, while worrying at the same time about the player making a great pass or taking a distant shot around you instead. I just try to make it simple and force the forward to make a split second decision, which gives me the opening I need to win the ball.”

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