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Pulling the strings

“Playing in the center of the field is probably one of the most important spots in my opinion because of all the control you can have over everyone. You see everything and run basically everywhere on the field,” stated Cotroneo.

by Matthew Ondesko, Managing Editor

Photos: Geoff Schneider/Sports Union (@GMSPhotoWNY)

To some it may look like it’s one of the days positions on the field. But, to those who play the positions, it could be one of the hardest - and most important positions to play.

When you are playing in the center of the pitch, you are expected to control the game. The central midfielder is the one that pulls the strings and gets the team going. Think about the impact that Italy’s Jorginho had this past summer when the Italian’s won the European Championships.

He dictated play for the Italians during the entire tournaments. His sharp passes, and creativity, was one of the reasons the Italians won.

You could say Grand Island High School’s Adiana Cotroneo is like Jorginho. Her play in the midfield dictates how the Vikings will play. If they want to play fast than Cotroneo will make sure they are out on the run.

If they want to play possession and pass it around then Cotroneo is able to slow it down and play keep away from other teams. Her 15 assists on the year shows the type of player she is. She can easily pick out the right person on the flanks or making those diagonal runs.

“Playing in the center of the field is probably one of the most important spots in my opinion because of all the control you can have over everyone. You see everything and run basically everywhere on the field,” stated Cotroneo. “You play a little offensively as well as defensively. You’re the leader on the field when you’re in the middle. As on my Flash team, I play outside back and it is nothing like the middle. You don’t see everything from the same perspective. When in the middle, the ball is constantly going through you in hopes of scoring. But when I’m playing outside back, the roles change. You are the last line of people to get the ball out of your area before it goes in the net.”

It is amazing that for her club team Cotroneo is an outside back - but it also talks to her willingness to play other positions to help the team. She has tremendous visions, noted by the 15 assist on her team.

Cotroneo has great vision and can pick out the right teammates with a pass that keeps them in stride. She notes that it doesn’t matter how much practice you have - you need to be able to able to pull it off during the game.

And, she does just that.

“It’s all about practice. You can run the same drill a million times to perfect it but it all comes down to pulling it off in the game,” stated Cotroneo. “With all that practice, you see different scenarios that are shown in the game so when you're in the game, it’s all second-nature to you. All the practice shows you the rights and wrongs of the game so when you're playing for a win, you can easily see the pass that’s going to lead you to victory.”

You also have to be used to having a defender on your back 24/7. At times Cotroneo can take a beating from other teams - especially when her back is to them as she receives the ball. She has to have the presence to feel the pressure on her and either make the quick turn or play the ball quickly before finding the open space and receiving he ball back.

It’s all awareness on the field. Cotroneo knows where she is at all times, or where she needs to be at all times. Playing in the central of the pitch is the most exciting place to be. She is the one that starts to build up for the goals, or has to hustle back to make a crunching tackle to prevent the other team from scoring.

“Well, for starters, there is always someone on you and the ball is always coming to you. The majority of the game is played through your feet. And though that can sound intimidating, playing the positions for years makes it more comfortable,” stated Cotroneo. “You start to become the player that your team depends on because the ball is always on your feet. You create all of the play that leads up to a goal, and you're the one sprinting back on defense when the ball is given away. This all sounds pretty tiresome and difficult but it’s where most of the game is played and where some of the best players on the field play.”

There is also a lot of pressure of not just playing in the midfield, but playing for a team that has high expectations every single season. For Grand Island anything but a Section VI title is a lost season.

They are expected to compete, and win, a sectional title every year they step on the pitch. The expectations are such that players can get tight with all the pressure there is to put on the Blue and White jersey of the Vikings.

Cotroneo may have felt that pressure a little when she first stepped on the pitch for the Vikings. But, that was short lived. She knew she had the talent to make a difference for a team that has high expectations every single year.

“In a sense, I do feel a lot of pressure, but at the same time I don’t. When I first started playing school soccer at Grand Island, I always felt less than all the older girls and I needed to step up my game. That all came with time and hours of practice. Going into big games, I feel the pressure more because we are expected to win because of all of our great accomplishments. I don’t let that get to me though, I let it inspire me to play better than the person standing next to me. When you put the pressure behind you, it’s just a game. When you think of it that way, you play like your normal self and can win,” explained Cotroneo. “When walking onto the field everyday for Grand Island, you’re not only representing yourself but you’re representing all of Grand Island. You are expected to follow in the footsteps of the great players before you. Our coach, Dave Bowman, never settles for anything less than great. We are expected to win all the time and we have to live up to those expectations. That starts with the work we put in before game time. The level of play on our Grand Island team is above the average high school team. We are expected to win because of the path that has been ate before us.

Cotroneo is used to winning, and not just with Grand Island. Over the summer, Cotroneo went from central midfielder to right back and helped the Western New York Flash win a National Championship down in Florida.

It was a once and a lifetime experience, and one that Cotroneo will never forget. It also showed her what it takes to come together has a team, and underdog, and do something special. Winning a National Championship is not an easy thing. There is so luck, of course, and a team that needs to come together quickly to reach its goal.

This team was special and they showed how special they were down in Florida.

“Honestly, it was one of the best feelings as a soccer player. Your teami being one of the last seeds, and then coming out to win the title makes all the hard work and long practices worth it,” stated Cotroneo. “Not only do you feel great that you won, but it also proves to everyone who didn’t believe in you that you can do it.”

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