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Gatorade Player of the Game

It’s more than just a refreshing treat after a job well done. It’s something tangible that tells the girls ‘hey kid, you did well. We noticed, and it’s appreciated.’

As the Mt. St. Mary soccer team continues its drive for first place in the Monsignor Martin Athletic Association Class B division, that drive is fueled by the prize of an iced cold bottle of Gatorade that gets awarded to the Player of the Game.

A long standing tradition, one girl gets recognized for her effort and attitude with the title of Player of the Game and she gets a bottle of the sports drink.

Started by Thunder head coach Marissa Dauria as a motivational tool to reward hard work, especially on a hot day, Dauria said the girls have bought into it 100%. And, said Dauria, not only are they buying into the reward of a prize at the end of the game, the real payoff is that the girls understand the whole picture of why the winner is selected.

“They totally bought into it,” said Dauria. “They understand that it’s not always the person who scores the most goals, or even scores the game winner. It could be, but doesn’t have to be. Overall, the effect is what we thought it would be. To increase the work ethic in everybody, all the time. It’s been great for them and it’s awesome to see that even in a loss we can draw some positives out of it.”

Dauria pointed to McKenna O’Rourke as a perfect example of the mission of the Player of the Game in the Thunder’s 3-0 loss to Nardin on Sept.19. Though it was in defeat, Dauria said she felt O’Rourke played one of the best, most complete games of her high school career.

“It means a lot because the coaches see that you’re working hard,” O’Rourke said. “All the work that you do on the field pays off, even though we didn’t win.”

The girls know the Player of the Game isn’t a stat driven award. Yes, Ruth Riggie earned it for her opening goal in a win over Christian Central Academy. But even though Riggie had three points in a 7-0 win over the Park School, it was Andreah Schmitter who took home Player of the Game because of her defensive play and never ending hustle.

“It was kind of a shock to me at first. I was hitting my head because I didn’t think I was playing that well,” said Schmitter. “It was an honor to be able to have that.”

Knowing that the award isn’t just about goals, assists or shutouts helps every girl believe she has a fair chance to win each and every day. Even more vital, it helps remind the team that every role is important and so is every girl who puts on that blue and white uniform.

“It’s important in all of our games to make sure that the girls know that they have a role on the team,” said Dauria.

“It’s easy to say you’ve got your leading goal scorer or your top defender, but everyone can play effectively.”

Schmitter said that while being focused on winning is the most important goal, she believes that an individual prize like Player of the Game is important because it helps you see personal growth in your game, which leads to higher self-esteem and the ability to make a bigger impact on the field.

“I think it pushes us all to work harder,” Schmitter said. “Winning as a team is not a personal goal. If you get Player of the Game it’s more personal for you. You worked hard. You earned that and you earned your spot on the field for that day.”

O’Rourke agreed and said she feels that the small gesture of winning a bottle of Gatorade can go a long way towards boosting someone’s confidence.

“I think a lot of people think that in order to do well you have to score X amount of goals,” O’Rourke said. “It’s not about that. It’s nice to know that you are appreciated. I got it for just coming back and helping out on defense. It gives people hope that no matter what position they play that if they work hard enough they can get it.”

Captain Paige Freer was named Gatorade Player of the Game for her consistent defensive play and creative offensive passing in the team’s 1-0 victory over Kenmore East yesterday.

Other winners include freshman Julia Polisoto and senior Katie Hart, who scored her first career goal against Mt. Mercy on Sept.15.

“Everyone is the heart of the team,” said O’Rourke.

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