RIT Soccer: Freshmen Athletes With Their Eyes on the Goal

Illustration by Danielle Marino

While RIT may not be the first school that comes to mind when the topic of collegiate athletes comes up, we do host some remarkable programs. While a number of those programs such as both the men and women's hockey teams had great seasons last year, RIT is currently seeing an influx of driven, talented freshman athletes. While new talent is pouring into just about all of RIT's available teams, the university's soccer program in particular is shaping up to be something to watch this year. 

The women’s team ended last season with eight wins, five losses and five ties. This year, Head Coach Liz Masterson is keeping her eye on several new freshman editions: biology major Monique Polanco, chemical engineering major Lauren Chester and ASL interpreting major Emily Thiel.

The men’s team ended last season with five wins, 12 losses and one tie. With the help of incoming freshmen like business major Gene Sicoli, diagnostic medical sonography major Anthony DeFeo, biomedical engineering major Adam Bem and engineering major Connor Ross, hopefully they can come out of this season with as many wins as possible. 

Regardless of past statistics, these freshmen seem more determined than ever to reach their full potential in sports as well as their lives. 

“I started playing soccer when I was three years old," says first year forward Gene Sicoli. "I would play seven days a week for multiple hours a day. Every aspect of my life motivates me to continue to grow as a soccer player.”

Although soccer is not always the main focus of all student athletes - juggling being away from home, new classes, getting lost on campus and Gracie’s stomachaches all take up some serious time - they come from around the world with different levels of experience and training that give them the advantage to take the field by storm. 

“I went to Europe to play at camps when I was younger and have also played all around the North East in the U.S," recalls first year defenseman Adam Bem of the men's soccer team. "I have been on the same club team ever since I started playing soccer. This club helped me throughout my life and has created the player I am today.”

“Playing at a collegiate level is a lot more demanding and intense," says first year defender Lauren Chester of the women's soccer team. "It wasn’t the easiest transition, but it is definitely worth it. It is a lot of hard work and very demanding but it is really fun and I am glad I decided to play here.” 

With new freshmen coming in and senior players graduating each year, fluidity on and off the field is not always guaranteed. 

"If the team is in a good place mentally and emotionally, we are capable of much more," says RIT women's soccer Head Coach Liz Masterson. "We’ve spent the past 9 months working as much, if not more, on our team culture than any other aspect of our game. I talk about our team culture, chemistry, and environment every day."

She is more than confident that with the new potential of the freshmen and the already skilled upperclassmen players they will be able to attain their team’s goals for this year, which include attending a conference tournament in Berth, a Liberty League championship, and an NCAA tournament bid.

Sports at RIT may not always be the hot topic around campus, but with this newfound potential these it really looks like multi-tasking, hard-working students, coaches and athletic staff deserve all the attention they can get.

Both of the next women's and men's games are on September 12 at SUNY Cortland.