Canadian establishes role during senior year
For Amy Pietrangelo, the road that led her to Rutgers is different from most of her teammates on the Rutgers women’s soccer team.
The senior forward is one of two players on the team roster who hail from Canada. Junior forward Samantha Valliant is also a Canada native.
One distinct advantage Pietrangelo held as she honed her skills prior to and during her first couple of years at Rutgers was the unique opportunity to play among the best in the world with the Canadian national team.
When she first arrived on campus, Pietrangelo was an average player.
She logged at least 675 minutes in each of her first three years as a Scarlet Knight, but her offensive impact was nothing electric, combining for just three goals and 11 points.
Now in her final year, Pietrangelo has made the necessary adjustments. Only five games into the season, Pietrangelo has netted three goals and leads the Knights with seven points.
Head coach Mike O’Neill said player development is something he and the other coaches monitor extensively.
“There’s such an emphasis on recruiting, and there always should be, but there’s also even more of an emphasis on player development when they’re here,” O’Neill said. “So, to see where these guys are starting and seeing where they’re going to end when their career is done — I’m excited to see that development.”
Aside from her training with the Rutgers coaching staff, Pietrangelo credits the jump in offensive production to her experience playing for the Canadian national team in each offseason and the extra time she put in on the field.
“That was a great experience,” she said of playing for the Canadian national team. “I think that really helped me mature as a player, so it made the transition into Rutgers a lot easier. I was used to being away from home and playing with older girls at that level. … It gave me a lot more experience that I was able to use here at Rutgers.”
As one of the younger players on the national team’s roster, Pietrangelo used the experience as a learning process. She won a gold medal in Brazil at Torneio Internacional Cidade de Sao Paolo, playing all 90 minutes against the host country en route to the team’s first-place finish.
But since playing her last minutes for Canada, Pietrangelo continued to work on her game and make the necessary improvements for her final year.
Senior backer Tori Leigh has been around Pietrangelo long enough to see the increase in drive and motivation her classmate now possesses.
“Amy’s a great person and player,” Leigh said. “Amy puts a lot of extra work in, too. There will be days where Amy is out in the field by herself hitting some balls. Amy’s very dedicated [and] loves soccer, so I think she’s very deserving of what she’s getting right now.”
As a fellow senior and Pietrangelo’s teammate for four years now who can relate to the feeling of going through each play and game as if it may be the last, Leigh praised Pietrangelo for her early success.
“I commend her, and I’m really happy for her, especially as a senior and as a teammate,” Leigh said. “I want to see my players do well, and I’m very happy with how successful she’s been.”
But for Pietrangelo, the individual success is nothing but a bonus.
“I just want to give my team my best. I think if I’m working my hardest and trying to be positive and make the team on the field better in the way I play, I can be an example for the girls,” Pietrangelo said. “Hopefully, they see me working just as hard. I just want to give the team my best. It’s all about them.”
For updates on the Rutgers women’s soccer team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.