RANDOLPH, NJ- Seniors on the Randolph High School Girls Varsity Soccer team were honored for their contributions to the program on October 18th, 2017 surrounded by friends, family, and teachers. The long-standing tradition took place minutes before an important State Playoff qualifier game against rival West Morris Central High School, making it dually significant for the girls.
Following emotional speeches presented by seniors Angela DeStefanis, Erin O’Neill, Alyssa D’Egidio, Christina O’Connor, Rachel Smith, and Kaitlin Robinson, the game began with yet another heartfelt moment. Captain Alyssa D’Egidio, who suffered a torn ACL in the spring, started her first game all season by taking a ceremonial kickoff and passing the ball out of bounds before being cheered off the field.
“This year has definitely been a great learning experience,” said Lady Rams coach Colleen Suflay. “It's become very apparent that each team and individual player react differently to adversity, challenges, and successes, and we will continue to grow one player and one team at a time. We have definitely learned that it's never too late to turn things around and change the trajectory of a season.”
The Lady Rams did indeed manage to turn around their fate from their previous game against WMC, avenging that loss by taking a 2-0 victory to punctuate senior night.
After a scoreless and evenly played first half, the Lady Rams grabbed the momentum in the opening minutes of the second half when junior Kate O’Neill burst up the right sideline on a partial breakaway and fired a shot into the net. Sophomore Lauren Robles followed that up with another Randolph goal shortly after, and the Lady Rams controlled play for the rest of the way.
It was the perfect way to end a special night honoring the seniors, who reflected on what their time in the program meant to them.
“Throughout my four years I have matured and gained self-confidence,” said O’Neill. “I have gone from an unsure freshman eager to prove myself to a self-confident leader that has proven herself and continues to develop and grow.”
Rachel Smith added “This year I’ve learned how the importance of a positive, focused attitude can make the difference between a win and a loss, and I’ve realized I cannot play my best if I’m not in the moment.”
Alyssa D’Egidio recalled her fondest memory being from her freshman year, when the team was named co-champions of the Morris County Soccer Tournament.
“Just being in that energetic, crazy, emotional environment was such an amazing ordeal that I am so grateful to have experienced it,” said D’Egidio. “I hope that everyone is granted the same opportunity at least once within their soccer career, because it is an experience that is unforgettable.”
Not only are the seniors left with life-long memories from their time on the varsity team, but they also have learned important lessons from each other and their coaches.
Robinson explained, “The most important lesson that coach has given us is not soccer related. As student athletes it is important for us to set an example for the rest of our peers. She stresses the importance of giving back to the community and helping those around you.”
Robinson continued, “Coach has the biggest heart because she makes it her job to help every girl who comes through the program be the best person they can be and makes sure they know what it means to help others. Her lesson on helping those around me has opened my eyes to how much giving back impacts people's' lives in tremendous ways.”
DeStefanis added, “Every girl has a role on the team regardless of play time, age, and skill. The dynamic of the team is built by each player and everyone contributes in their own positive way.”
As their final season as Randolph High School Girls Soccer players comes to a close, the seniors experience many emotions and come to better understand themselves.
“I have grown and learned from my mistakes and successes, and it has truly taught me how to handle things in life today,” said O’Connor. “Sometimes you just have to stay tough.”
In a final message to her seniors, Coach Suflay offered words of encouragement, stating, “The skills and lessons they learn on the field can easily be transferred into their everyday lives. We hope that we have not only created strong soccer players, but strong, independent and responsible young women, who will continue to grow throughout their lives.”
Randolph’s record now stands at 7-6-3, with their final regular season game home against rival Roxbury on Monday Oct. 23.