Sarah Pandolfi back and better following season-long injury

By on September 29, 2016

Over the course of her collegiate soccer career, senior Bobcat forward Sarah Pandolfi from North Haven, Connecticut, has traveled a unique path on her way to success.

Before becoming a Bobcat, Pandolfi had originally committed to UMass Amherst to play soccer. However, her college experience there was short-lived.

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“I didn’t really like [UMass,] the size of it. The coach there, I just wasn’t getting along with him,” Pandolfi said. “I thought at first I really wanted to be at a bigger school. Once I got there, the population was 25,000-30,000 students, and it just wasn’t my fit. I also didn’t like being that far away from home.”

Pandolfi said a big reason why she chose to transfer to Quinnipiac was because her former high school teammate, Caitlyn Shaw, was playing for the Bobcats.

Shaw was going to be a senior when Pandolfi was transferring to Quinnipiac for her sophomore year.

“[Shaw] helped me to understand the experience here more than [head coach] Dave [Clarke] could help with social life and everything,” Pandolfi said. “I realized a smaller school and a school closer to home would fit me better.”

In 2014, Pandolfi was just one of two women on the team to appear in all 17 games and was the primary striker for the Bobcats. She had 35 shots on the season, the most on the team, and a season-high seven shots against Iona on Sept. 24.

Her two assists of the year were game-winning assists; the first one came in the second half against Vermont on Sept. 13 and the second coming against Marist in a thrilling double-overtime victory on Oct. 15.

However, Pandolfi was then forced to sit out the entire 2015 season due to injury.

“I had never been injured for that long of a time. It was like a year and a half, and it took me away from the field and playing with my teammates,” Pandolfi said. “The whole time, I was very bitter and angry about it, but once I got to step back on the field, I realized that I got to see a lot of stuff off the field of people in my position… Mistakes I would make and things I would mess up on, and by being off the field I think that helped me to become a better player and learn more,” Pandolfi said.

“If I wasn’t injured, I probably wouldn’t have acknowledged a lot of stuff that I should have about me and my playing ability” Pandolfi said.

Even Clarke was a little surprised that Pandolfi came back from her injury after being away from the team for such a long period of time.

“Her injury, for a lot of players, could have been a career-ending injury,” Clarke said.

Many of Pandolfi’s teammates were also impressed that she came back for the 2016 season.

“She never lets anyone get her down, even after everything, coming back from her injury,” junior defender Jillian Consolini said. “I think she has probably one of the most determined attitudes on our team to be successful.”

Sarah Pandolfi’s determination has shown so far in the first half of this 2016 season.

“I didn’t know what to expect of her this year. I thought we might get 10 or 15 minutes a game, and I think we have gotten more out of her,” Clarke said.

Through the first nine games of the season, Pandolfi is averaging 41 minutes per game. She also has three goals, one assist, and a total of seven points, which is the fourth most on the team. Pandolfi also has the best shot percentage on the team (0.333).

For the week of Sept. 5, Pandolfi earned the MAAC Player of the Week. It was the first weekly award honor of her career here at Quinnipiac.

“I was pretty shocked. I had never won an award like that,” Pandolfi said. “I know my teammates helped me a lot. One of our coaches, Stephen Coxon, always says a quote. It goes like, ‘If you want to be successful, don’t worry about who gets the credit,’ because it’s the whole team that’s doing that.”

Not only is Pandolfi a great player, but the players see her as a role model, too.

“I’m a year younger than Sarah and sometimes I view Sarah as being a lot older than I am, and I think it’s just because she’s gone through so many things with soccer,” Consolini said. “For her to transfer and have a hard experience at another school, then come here and pick it up, and really make a name for herself at Quinnipiac, especially this year, I think that’s something to really look up to.”

With the hope that she will have a complete senior season, the team believes she can stay consistent.

“She’s probably one of the hardest working people on our team, and you can just tell by whenever she gets on the field, the switch flips for her,” Consolini said. “She just becomes so determined, and she’s a forward for our team, and she’s always going out there, and her intention is to score goals.”

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