Roseville graduate gets her kicks, one last time
The end of the match wasn’t much fun, and the bus ride home was no joyride either.
Morgan Lichtinger has played soccer for most of her life – as a little girl, in recreational leagues, competitively, in high school and college.
So when the whistle blew that final time late last fall, a 3-2 loss to Houghton in the American Mideast Conference semifinals ended the season for Notre Dame College of Euclid, Ohio, and it ended Lichtinger’s playing career as she knew it.
“In the last few minutes, it really hit me at that time,” said Lichtinger, a four-time All-Sierra Foothill League player and 2007 graduate of Roseville High School. “I just dropped down to my knees and started crying. Having the game in our hands and losing it, and it being our last game, not being able to go through the experience the next game and the next year.
“It’s hard going from playing when you’re little to working your way up, working your way up, high school, college; and after college, it’s just done. It was really hard.”
But it wasn’t quite over, as it turned out. Lichtinger received an e-mail in late January inviting her to try out for the Western New York Flash of Women’s Professional Soccer.
Lichtinger thought the e-mail invitation “was something they send out to everyone,” but Rudy Roediger, the sports information contact for women’s soccer at Notre Dame, said the invitation was special.
“He thought it was cool to get acknowledged like that,” Lichtinger said.
On top of that, Lichtinger wasn’t just anyone for two years at Notre Dame. After two years at Sierra College, during which Lichtinger earned the team’s Most Improved Player award in the fall of 2007, she moved on to Notre Dame and was named All-AMC honorable mention in 2009. Last fall, she was an All-AMC first-team selection and NAIA/NCAA-II All-Ohio first team. Lichtinger played defense for a Falcons team that recorded nine shutouts. She also had three goals and one assist.
“She really worked hard to improve her game after her first season and really became a more polished and disciplined player,” Notre Dame coach Mike Shiels said.
Roediger and Lichtinger’s mom, Julia Dodich, urged her to attend the February tryout. Lichtinger hadn’t run since the end of the season, but she attended the tryout.
“That’s also why I was nervous, because I was definitely not in shape,” Lichtinger said. “I could definitely tell when I got out there the level of play and amount of time the girls spent. They’ve been working on it for a long time.”
The Flash’s roster includes FIFA World Player of the Year Marta. More than 60 women at the tryout were put onto four teams that played matches while coaches observed. The players were told about 25 would advance to the second day of tryouts. From there, only three or four would move on to training in March.
Lichtinger didn’t make the team, but she cherished the experience and one more opportunity to play.
“It was awesome to see the level of play. The girls were incredible. It was a whole other level,” she said. “It could have been better if I was in better shape. As soon as I got out there, I was thinking, ‘Oh no, this is going to be a long day.’ It was good to get the experience and play with players from all over the country and all over the world.”
A sports management major, Lichtinger has one more semester of school, and she then hopes to land an internship.
“The River Cats maybe,” she hopes.
Lichtinger said she wants to stay involved with sports, possibly in managing or sales, and preferably at the college level. She still loves the competition and has the passion.
“I played with girls that they would have died on the field for someone else,” Lichtinger said. “It was a cool thing to experience, the variety of people you play with, even players on other teams. To be on campus and know you’re a student-athlete, people know who you are. That was one of the coolest parts.
“I wouldn’t take it back for anything. I wish I could play longer.”