The St. Thomas University Tommies women’s soccer team has recruited a permanent goalkeeper for the 2016-17 season.
Last year the Tommies lacked a consistent keeper, but have found one from the roster of the Fredericton High School Black Kats team.
Keeper Mary Cronin is excited to transition from high school to university athletics.
“I’m ecstatic, It’s always been an end goal for me,” she said. “It’s something that’s been drilled into me to play university soccer after high school.”
While at STU, Cronin plans to pursue a Bachelor of Arts with a focus on women studies and a double minor in math and French. After university, she plans to teach math in the French language at a middle school.
Cronin said she has a lot to bring to the women’s soccer program. Her position as a goalie is a critical component to winning games, she said.
“I will be a positive aspect to the team and lead the team from the back.”
Coach Michelle DeCourcey coached Cronin at the Under-16 level and is happy to see her join the Tommies.
“Mary brings an amazing attitude, strong work ethic, and willingness to learn,” DeCourcey said. “I have no doubt she will thrive at the ACAA level, and I can’t wait to see her develop as a player and a person in this setting.”
DeCourcey said Cronin is one of the province’s best keepers of her age group and a dangerous striker.
“Her versatility makes her an asset, and it will definitely benefit the Tommies,” she said. “A striker who can think like a goalie, and vice-versa, is a beautiful thing.”
But Cronin is nervous about joining the Tommies and playing in a more competitive league, though.
“I don’t want to let down the team,” she said. “I want to bring them to nationals next year. That’s my end goal.”
Cronin started playing soccer at the age of 11.
“I think my parents put me in soccer to keep me active,” she said. “An older girl that I knew asked if I could play with them, (so) I played.”
Cronin first became a keeper after her third year of playing soccer.
“The first time I played goalie was the first game of the division,” she said. “I was on my nerves and I felt the whole game was on my shoulders.”
“But I got into it because I was good at it.”
Since then, Cronin has played in multiple Division-1 leagues, Premiership leagues, Team New Brunswick and various women’s leagues throughout Fredericton.
Cronin has won two Division-1 provincial finals, both in Under-14 and Under-18. In 2014, she was named the U18 Most Valuable Player, and Female Athlete of the Year from the Fredericton District Soccer Association in 2015.
One of Cronin’s most memorable experiences playing soccer was during a tie game in the provincial finals. Her team then scored and won on a shootout.
Some difficult moments for Cronin include being cut from teams. She said she was not always a good player, but with practice and time, anyone with heart can achieve success.
“It’s hard to be told you’re not good enough, but it’s what made me work harder and made me a better player today,” she said.
Cronin is happy to be attending STU and joining the soccer program because the FHS Black Kats are not a serious soccer team and the skill level has diminished since she was in Grade 9, she said.
“I didn’t like the coaching or atmosphere. FHS soccer can be improved,” said Cronin.
Cronin said high school students who want to play university sports should allow themselves to be noticed.
“They need to put themselves out there and aware to universities. You have to contact coaches to be recognized, and you have to drive yourself to work harder,” she said.
Cronin said soccer is a sport that can shape someone into a great person.
“It taught me great values like commitments and how to interact with new people. (Through soccer) I learned to cope with big-intensity, stressful-situations.”
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