The senior forward and team captain has been a prolific scorer for the Owls this fall, scoring seven goals in Agnes Irwin’s first five games. She scored two goals in Agnes Irwin’s season-opening win against Germantown Academy, tallied both goals in a 2-0 victory vs. Episcopal Academy, and scored two goals in a 3-2 win against GA Nov. 17. Last fall, she was the Owls’ joint MVP (along with Natalie Pansini), had the most combined goals/assists for Agnes Irwin (10-9-3)) and received second team All-Main Line honors. She will play soccer for Division I Marshal University next fall. Off the pitch at Agnes Irwin, she participates in Athletes Helping Athletes, Girls Grant Making and PALS.
Q: What do you think has been the biggest key to your productive scoring this fall?
A: The biggest key to my productive season this year would be my determination to train hard, win, and be the best version of myself. With this being an abnormal season due to COVID-19, along with it being my senior year, I play every game like it could be my last time in an Agnes Irwin soccer uniform. I am extremely hardworking and I have an immense passion for the game. I am always pushing myself to get better and I am extremely excited to further my soccer career next year at Marshall University. However, my success would not be possible without the rest of my teammates and my coaches. My teammates at Agnes Irwin have become my best friends and push me to become a better player. This team is filled with so much love and talent and I am honored to be a part of it. Coach Mike Welsh and Coach Katie Cooper have supported me throughout the season and provided me with valuable coaching critiques. I am very thankful for what the entire coaching staff at Agnes Irwin has done for me during my soccer career.
Q: Tell us a little about your soccer training since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. What have you found to be the biggest challenge to your training during the pandemic, and how did you handle that?
A: The COVID-19 pandemic presented many challenges when trying to continue my training. With everything being cancelled for club and high school soccer, I was forced to continue training on my own. Finding open fields to get in extra touches was difficult, as most of the fields were shut down. Finding ways to stay in shape with limited resources and access to equipment was also a challenge. Most of all, I missed seeing all of my teammates and coaches as we relied on Zoom calls to see each other. However, this was not going to stop me from training and I was determined to continue my training. I found new ways to focus on all aspects of my game. I spent countless hours watching my game film finding new ways to improve on and off the ball. I lifted weights to improve my strength and went for runs to maintain my current fitness. I would find any space available to get touches on a ball. I was motivated to continue my training to be prepared for the upcoming season.
Q: How do you see your role as a team leader, on the field as a forward, and off the field as a senior captain during the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: Off the field, I strive to make sure all of my teammates are treated with respect and everyone feels like equals. The pandemic has presented itself as a challenge to our program this year. With multiple game cancellations and new protocols, I strived to create an environment for our team where everyone felt comfortable. Along with this, I pushed my teammates to work hard and focus on our training. On the field as a forward, I am humbled to represent the success of my entire team through my goals. Being able to put the ball in the net and lead us to a win makes me extremely happy and proud. Although, my individual success would not be possible without the rest of my teammates.
Q: Tell us a little about your start in soccer. Have you always played forward? Who have been your biggest soccer mentors, and what was the most important thing you learned from each one?
A: I have been playing soccer for as long as I can remember. Although I have been playing since the age of 4, I started playing competitive travel soccer at the age of 8. I have always been an offensive minded player and I love to score goals. I am extremely versatile and can play in any of the attacking positions. My biggest soccer mentors would have to be the amazing coaches I have had the privilege to be coached by. My club coach and high school soccer coach, Mike Welsh, has been a huge part of my success. I have played for Coach Mike’s club team for four years and his high school team for two years. He has always been there for me through everything and has worked so hard to train me to be the player I am today. He has taught me so much about the game of soccer and I am so thankful for the bond we have created. I am so grateful to have met Coach Mike as he is one of the most influential coaches I have ever met. The most important thing I have learned from Coach Mike is to always work for my dreams and persevere through tough times. I also owe a great deal of thanks to my fantastic coaches from my Region I ODP Team. I had the wonderful opportunity to play internationally in Ireland with my Region I Team. This experience taught me many important life lessons that will prepare me for the rest of my life.
Q: What do you think is the strongest aspect of your game? What part of your game are you working on the most currently?
A: The strongest aspect of my game would be my work rate and my ability to finish. I always strive to work hard and train as hard as possible. My team relies on me to score and I am confident I am able to do so. There are always parts of my game I can improve on to become a better player. One area I am working on currently is building my strength to prepare myself to play Division 1 soccer at Marshall University next year. I am doing this by working with strength and conditioning coaches and focusing on my nutrition.
Q: Tell us a little about your pre-game preparation the day of a game.
A: My pre-game preparation the day of a game always includes stretching and fueling myself with plenty of food and water. I also have to listen to my favorite pump-up song, Runnin from the Creed II playlist before every game. I close my eyes and imagine myself playing in the game. During warmups, I lock myself into focus and mentally and physically prepare for the game. I often lead my team in a loud cheer to pump everyone up for the game. Before the starting whistle blows before every game, I must do three jumps and do the sign of the cross. It is definitely a superstition that I have to do to be able to play well.
Q: You wear uniform jersey No. 4 for Agnes Irwin. Why did you pick this number – was there a particular reason?
A: When I was growing up, I always wore No. 27 because it was my dad’s jersey number for his sports teams. My dad has always been my role model and I admired him throughout my adolescence. However, when I switched club teams, I was not allowed to use No. 27, and I had to pick a single digit number. I chose No. 4 and I continued to use this number because it has brought me good luck.
Q: What is your favorite course at Agnes Irwin? What do you think you might want to major in at Marshall? Is there a career field that particularly interests you at the present time?
A: My favorite course at Agnes Irwin is my Microbiology class. In this course, we focus on lab-based activities and study all types of living organisms that are too small to be seen with the naked eye. This course is very fascinating and I really enjoy this course due to it being extremely hands-on. Our microbiology class has also been focusing on the Coronavirus Pandemic and the efforts being taken to create a vaccine. This course is also helpful in preparing me for college as I plan to major in Microbiology or Biomedicine. A career field that interests me now is Pharmaceuticals and Infectious Disease Specialists.
Fun facts – Alyssa Hardin
Favorite book: The Giver.
Favorite author: J.K. Rowling.
Favorite TV show: Criminal Minds.
Favorite movie: Creed II.
Favorite athlete: Cristiano Ronaldo.
Favorite pre-game pump-up song: Runnin – Creed II Soundtrack.
Favorite team: USA Women’s National Team.
Favorite place to visit: Virginia Beach, Va.
Favorite pre-game meal: Peanut butter bagel and a protein shake.
Person I most admire, and why: “I most admire my Dad because he has been by my side supporting me throughout my athletic career. He is extremely hardworking and perseveres through the most difficult situations. I hope I can grow to be as strong and resilient as he is. I love my Dad and I am so thankful to have him as a role model in my life.”
Family members: parents Michael and Elaina, younger sister Adriana.
(To be selected as Main Line Girls Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by her coach.)