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Ashley Mannarino Leads FAU’s Soccer Team into Twilight of Career

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Ashley Mannarino Leads FAU’s Soccer Team into Twilight of Career

Ashley Mannarino didn’t have to go too far to make a name in women’s soccer.  The senior Florida Atlantic University student-athlete has added an exclamation mark to her outstanding collegiate career, all while enjoying the game she loves in her hometown.

Mannarino, a graduate of Pope John Paul II High School in Boca Raton , has enjoyed a standout FAU career as a forward, which so far has featured a NCAA postseason tournament performance during her freshman year and all conference recognition last season.

This fall, Mannarino was named a Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference selection – and she has lived up to that reputation by leading the Owls in scoring (four goals) and points (nine), heading into conference play this weekend.

“I know what I have to do out there on the field and just try to help the team win,” said Mannarino.

FAU has played a challenging non-conference schedule this fall, facing three universities from the Southeastern Conference ( University of Arkansas , University of Georgia and the University of Mississippi ), one member of the Atlantic Coast Conference ( Clemson University ) and one Big East university ( University of South Florida ).  Although FAU has a 2-5-2 record, Mannarino said she believes that the team has learned from the games and is ready to play its best performances of the season in Sun Belt Conference play, including the league’s postseason tournament, which FAU is hosting on November 4-7.

“I would rather play all SEC, ACC or any high-caliber conference teams.  I love playing in those matches,” said Mannarino, who scored the team’s lone goal in a 1-1 tie against Arkansas on September 18.  “Playing a tough early-season schedule should make us more prepared for our conference games.”

Mannarino’s determination and love for soccer have helped her to grow and develop in the sport.  She blossomed in 2008, scoring seven goals, including five game-winning goals (third best in FAU history), after being away from the game for two seasons.  She established a school record with four assists in one match, and her eight assists during her freshman year ranks sixth in single-season history.  She attended FAU but did not play soccer in 2007 after sitting out her sophomore year in 2006 as a collegiate redshirt.

Getting back into physical shape to play the rigors of NCAA Division I soccer was Mannarino’s hardest challenge to overcome.

“I’ve always loved and appreciated the game.  I have grown up and realized that it’s almost over and these are some of my last games.  That makes me want to win and have success for the team even more,” said Mannarino.  “I can’t believe that it is almost over.  I feel like it was yesterday when I was a freshman.  It’s crazy how fast these years have gone by.  I wish I had four more years.”

Mannarino has been playing soccer since she was 7 years old.  One of her favorite good luck charms is to wear the same warm-up jersey in every game, along with personal jewelry.  As a personal superstition, she likes to be the closest player to the field’s midfield line, which can been seen as she runs routines during team warm-ups before each match.

“I loved soccer from the first day.  It’s now just a part of me.  I stopped for a semester and came right back to it,” said Mannarino.  “I will miss just being out there and playing competitively.  I am sure I’ll always be playing, whether it is a pickup game or something more competitive.  I will definitely miss the competition.

Mannarino also hopes to make more special memories – for her, her family and her teammates – as the FAU season continues this fall.

“I am very close to my family and love South Florida – Miami , Fort Lauderdale , West Palm Beach – everything you would ever want is all right here,” she said.  “My family comes to all my games, which is a definite advantage.  They have shared this experience with me . . . I love FAU.  I love being down south, and having palm trees and the beach minutes away.  I’ve been a part of this team for a long time, so keeping some of the traditions are important and having the memories I have will be unforgettable.”

Source: FAU Media Relations
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