Rianna Fasanello is a stalwart on defense for the Southern New Hampshire women’s soccer team. The senior captain from East Bridgewater has helped her team post 10 shutouts this season, in the process earning consecutive Defensive Player of the Week honors in the Northeast-10 Conference.
It was a rare offensive spurt for Fasanello, however, that grabbed headlines. The 5-foot-1 defender connected for the first goal of her collegiate career in a 1-0 win over Assumption Oct. 17. Junior Ariana Silvia of Brockton dropped a pass back on the right side for Fasanello, who booted the ball from 35 yards out and into the top left corner of the net. The goal became national news when the strike was featured on ESPN SportsCenter’s Top Plays segment.
Southern New Hampshire (12-2-4, 9-1-4 NE 10) has lost just once in its last 16 matches (11-1-4) and has allowed just one goal in the last five games. Fasanello has played in 71 games at the school, making 56 starts. She also has two assists. An elementary education major with a certificate in special education, Fasanello hopes to attend grad school after graduating in May.
Q. You picked an opportune time to score your first goal. Can you describe the circumstances leading up to the play?
A. We were attacking and looking for the chipped ball over the top of the defense to find a target forward. In that instance, the ball over the top wasn’t on, so I saw an opportunity to take a shot.
Q. What are the most important facets to being a strong defender?
A. As a team, we approach every game as the hardest game we are going to play that day. We never go into a game lightly. I think some of the most important aspects to being a strong defender are communication skills, as well as having trust in your fellow defenders and the whole team.
Q. What is more exciting: scoring that game-winner, or helping the team pitch a shutout?
A. I would definitively say that playing a strong game and helping the team pitch a shutout is more exciting. The team just recorded its 10th shutout of the season, which is awesome.
Q. What did it feel like to score a goal after such a long drought?
A. This was my first goal since the South Sectional semifinals during my senior year at East Bridgewater. It’s crazy to think that it took me four years to score another goal.
Q. Do you have a soccer player that you look up to as a role model?
A. During my college career I have always looked up to my older sister, Jaemie, who was a defender at Stonehill College [Class of 2013]. She always played with intensity and was a brick wall on the back line. There has always been some sibling rivalry that has pushed me to try and be better.
Q. Favorite place to grab a bite to eat around campus?
A. I would say the Farm Bar & Grill. I love the pulled pork nachos.
Q. What is the key to a long post-season run?
A. We need to keep positive and play our game, as well as just taking it one game at a time.
Q. What do you like to do in your spare time?
A. I like to spend time with friends and family in my spare time. When soccer ends I will be picking up more hours at work. I am a peer mentor at Southern New Hampshire as well as a tutor for the YMCA at the Beech Street Elementary School.
Q. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A. I think probably Australia because I’ve always wanted to see kangaroos, and I love the accent.
JOHN JOHNSONJohn Johnson can be reached at email@example.com.