The sophomore attack midfielder has been an explosive scorer for the Owls, tallying six goals in Agnes Irwin’s first five games. Agnes Irwin soccer head coach Mike Welsh said, “Lily is a very gifted technician who can pass, dribble and shoot at a high level. She has great close control and changes direction really well. She is strong in 1v1 dribbling situations, but also has a great eye for a pass; this makes her unpredictable and really dangerous around the box.” Fusco is a three-sport athlete for the Owls (soccer, basketball lacrosse) and she participates in many other activities at Agnes Irwin, including STEM Club, Athletes Helping Athletes, Art & Set Design and Ceramics.
Q: What do you think has been the biggest key to your scoring success?
A: My team has definitely been key in helping me get to goal; especially my older sister Belle, who plays directly behind me at defensive holding midfield. She has created a lot of opportunities for our attacking players, while leading our defense. Outside of the team, focusing on my mindset before games has been key for me – I know I need to get to score or set up one of my teammates to score. My mental game is just as important as my physical game and being focused on that has contributed to my success.
Q: What has been the most important thing you have learned from Belle as a soccer player?
A: When we were small and just starting to play, Belle and I dreamed of one day playing on the high school team together. I am so thankful for the time we’ve had at Agnes Irwin. Belle has shown me, by example, the importance of courage and strength of character. She is the definition of true grit. She gives 100 percent in everything she does. She works harder in practice than anyone I know. And she never gives up. A lot of people play, but not everyone competes. Belle always competes. As a defensive player, she rarely gets the “glory” moments of scoring the winning goal. But we literally couldn’t win games without her, and there is no one else I would want behind me on the field than her. She literally has my back every game, and in life too. Our team is really going to miss her next year.
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 has consistently been my ability to see the field and the play before it develops. I have always assisted goals as much or more than I score goals. I love playing through balls to my teammates. I am definitely working more on scoring right now, and am following the advice of my National Team Coach (Felicity Day) – working on being more dominant in the air, and winning the air balls.
Q: What are you hoping to achieve this fall?
A: I am hoping to continue to score and assist my teammates this fall, and make it to the Inter-Ac finals. I’m also hoping we can win at home on AIS/EA day this year. We won at EA during the last AIS/EA day, and it was amazing! I think it will be even better if we win at home.
Q: Who have been your biggest soccer mentors, and what was the most important thing you learned from each one?
A: I have been really lucky to have a lot of amazing soccer mentors in my life. Some of my very first coaches, my Dad, Dr. (Mike) Krafchick, Mr. (Dave) McClain and Coach Ben McCarthy (Director of Coaching at Lionville Soccer Club) all taught me to have fun on the field. That has always stayed with me. Being a creative player is so important in soccer; and they encouraged me to be creative and always have fun. Coach Dakota Carroll from Germantown Academy was my first female coach and one of the best mentors a young player like me could ask for. She is inspiring and one of the most supportive coaches you could ask for. She is also a beast, and I say that in the most flattering way possible. She plays with my sister Belle for the UWS Steel United Women’s team, and has taught me that being passionate about the game and your team will take you places you never could imagine. Coach Felicity Day is my National Team coach and though I only get to play for her a few times a year, she is incredible. Coach Felicity played for the Arsenal Women’s team in England. She gives me great advice and guidance on how and where I can improve my game. She has taught me that being a leader on and off the field is just as important, maybe more important than my performance. And of course, Coach Mike Welsh, who is both my high school and club coach. I think the fact that I chose to play high school soccer for my club coach says a lot. I wouldn’t be at Agnes Irwin if I didn’t love playing for Mike. He is a great coach and an even better human being, which can be a tough combination to find. Mike has taught me to leave everything on the field. He knows how to get the most out of me, even when I feel like I have nothing left. Mike is also not a coach who gets angry and lets his emotions get in the way. He believes in us, and his calm confidence has taught me to stay focused and not let emotion interfere with the job we have to do.
Q: Tell us a little about your pre-game preparation the day of a game.
A: On high school game days there’s not much pre-game prep as we are coming right out of a busy day of classes. But I do spend a lot of time every day concentrating on eating clean and healthy, and recovery. Both are really important with high school practices every day, and games twice a week. Hydration is probably my most important pre-game prep.
Q: You wear uniform jersey No. 44 for Agnes Irwin – why did you pick this number?
A: I am wearing No. 44 this year for Agnes Irwin, but in 8th and 9th grade I wore No. 1. My real number is No. 14, which I have worn since I was 6 years old, but unfortunately at Agnes Irwin didn’t fit this fall because I grew a lot over the summer. I picked No. 14 because it was my sister Belle’s number first. My youngest sister Allie just turned 8 years old and she is wearing No. 14 too. So it’s really our family number now! #Fusco14
Q: Tell us a little about your club soccer career. What has been your most memorable experience in club soccer?
A: I joined Steel United in 2017. They are a National Club with teams in 8 states and growing. Their club model is unlike any other, which is why I chose to play there. It’s about so much more than soccer. We are learning to be leaders in our local communities, and working to embody our club’s core values: Teamwork, Respect, Integrity and Commitment. My most memorable experience in club soccer was being selected for the Steel United National Team. Players from around the country are invited to National Team Camp, and after intense training and game play, a National Team is selected. We work with some of the best coaches in the country who create a player experience at a professional level. In February 2020, our National Team competed in one of the most competitive International Tournaments in the world, The Las Vegas Mayors Cup International Showcase. I am excited to have been selected again for the 2021-2022 National Team, and we’ll be competing in Vegas again in a few months. We’re hoping as we continue to play together that there may be opportunities to play overseas. One other memorable club soccer experience was being named the US Soccer National League Player of the Month in May 2021.
Q: What is your favorite academic subject at Agnes Irwin? Is there a career field that particularly interests you at the present time?
A: Mandarin Chinese is my favorite subject. I have an amazing teacher, Mia Liu (Laoshi), and the class is so different from all my other classes. I am also really interested in science and medicine. Right now, if I had to choose, I would like to be a surgeon. I have a suture kit at home that I practice stitching on. I had an accident over the summer, and had to get 17 stitches in my toes. The doctor who stitched me was amazing and as I watched, he basically taught me his stitching technique. I also got to take half of the stitches out myself when I healed, which was super cool.
Fun facts – Lily Fusco
Favorite book: The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure.
Favorite author: Kate DiCamillo.
Favorite TV show: LOST.
Favorite movie: Rocky.
Favorite athlete: Carli Lloyd.
Favorite pre-game pump-up song: Thunderstruck.
Favorite team: Manchester City and USWNT.
Favorite place to visit: Denmark.
Favorite pre-game meal: Protein smoothies and Liquid IV.
Person I most admire, and why: “I have a lot of people (past and present) that I admire, but none more than Austin Beltrante right now. He is a living miracle.” #AustinsArmy
Family members: Parents Philip and Lisa, older sister Belle, younger sisters Clare and Allie. “And my Mom-Mom, and my furry family member, Theodore the Newfypoo.”
(To be selected as Main Line Girls Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by her coach.)