Team player

St. Mary's High School soccer star Kristin Moccia is pictured outside the school.

Moccia selected Globe Division 3 Player of the Year

Kristin Moccia had a tough decision to make the night of the St. Mary’s High School girls soccer banquet.

Moccia had been selected as the Eastern Mass. Coaches Association Division 3 Player of the Year and the All-Star Game was being held at the same time as the St. Mary’s banquet.

Moccia’s decision reflected the caliber of leader and performer she was during her career in the St. Mary’s program.

“It was a tough decision, but I wanted to be with my team at the banquet,” said Moccia. “I wouldn’t have been recognized for these awards if not for my great teammates who play the game so well and with such heart and intensity.”

Moccia’s individual awards include being named Boston Globe All-Scholastic and Division 3 Player of the Year (joining former St. Mary’s stars Amanda Webster and Kerri Domohowski in that prestigious category), Massachusetts State First Team All-Star, CCL All-Star, and Item All-Star. She was also the recipient of the Connell Family Service Award for outstanding service to the school and the community.

St. Mary’s coach Jim Foley presented the team MVP award to Moccia at the banquet. The coach praised Moccia’s leadership on defense, saying it was her stellar season-long performance in front of goalkeepers Angela Dandreo and Bailey Bruckmann that made the Lady Spartans’ defense one of the best in the area.

“Kristin was the best sweeper in the league,” said Foley. “She was a shoo-in for Eastern Mass. All-Star. She also made the Boston Globe All-Scholastic Team. I know she loves the game and brings a lot to the table. She loves that purple headband. She truly made our engine go this year in terms of defense.”

Moccia praised the coaching staff led by Foley and assistant coach Kerri Burke.

“Mr. Foley was like a second father to a lot of the girls on the team,” said Moccia. “He really helped my transitioning to defense and understanding the sweeper position. Coach Kerri Burke was a huge role model to everybody on the team and helped us with our conditioning and teamwork.”

Moccia played soccer in the Lynn Youth Soccer in-house and travel programs. She credits Lynn coach Claudy Exama for being instrumental in her development as a player.

Moccia was a midfielder and forward up until her junior year at St. Mary’s. Coach Foley moved Moccia to sweeper after teammate Brianna Marotta sustained a knee injury.

“It was hard to replace her [Marotta] because she pretty much played 80 minutes every game without a substitution and I had never played defense before,” said Moccia. “But I knew the coach was going to need someone. Playing sweeper is different because beyond me there is nobody else besides the goalie, so you’re the last line of defense.”

Moccia said the team was successful on defense because it had two excellent goalies, Angela Dandreo and Bailey Bruckmann, alterating in net. “They were incredible as our goalies,” said Moccia. “They taught each other so much and Bailey coming here as a transfer – she was awesome.”

Moccia said she could depend on defenders Brenna Huffmann and Bria Prophete to make the right play on the field. “This was our first year playing on defense together and they were really strong defenders and very aggressive,” said Moccia. “We covered the field well for each other. I think their performance was a key part to the team’s shutouts and the few goals we allowed this season.”

An honor roll student, Moccia is co-president of the senior class with Patrick Hogan. She is treasurer of the student council, a tutor at the Boys and Girls Club and involved in community service. Last February, she joined a local church group on a one-week visit to Mexico to help build a house.

Principal Carl DiMaiti said that Moccia “epitomizes the term student-athlete.”

“Kristin is a tremendous leader,” said DiMaiti. “She’s done some remarkable things here. I watched all of her games this year and she’s a tremendous talent. But more than that, she’s a giving person who does so much for the school that goes unnoticed, except by the administrators.”

Moccia has visited Simmons College where she had a meeting  with the soccer coaches. She has also applied to Boston College, St. Anselm, URI, Rivier College, and University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is interested in pursuing a career in Nursing.

The daughter of Steve and Susan Moccia, Kristin says she’s grateful for their support and encouragement since her earliest days in sports.

“My father’s a big support system and my biggest fan,” said Kristin. “He helped me with my decision about the banquet and the All-Star Game. He’s very understanding. And my mother has been very supportive. She probably thinks I try to do too much, but she’s been at as many games as she could get to.”

“My brother, Kevin, has been a positive influence and role model to me,” said Kristin. “He’s very smart. He’s studying Biomedical Engineering at Northeastern University. He’s my tutor.”

Looking back at her four years at St. Mary’s, she said she’ll miss the bonds she has formed with her teammates and friends and the helpfulness and dedication of the St. Mary’s faculty.

“I’d say Mr. Jalbert is my favorite teacher – he was my AP History teacher for two years – and he’s an awesome teacher,” she said. “He’s really good friends with Coach Foley, so he always could offer insight about sports and keeping your life balanced. St. Mary’s has given me more than I could have ever asked for in a high school. And Mr. DiMaiti is a huge reason why St. Mary’s is like a family.”

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