Kat Hassapis is now healthy, free of crutches, and ready to seize her opportunity as the starting goalie for the Bentley women’s soccer program.
A hamstring injury, finally pinpointed last spring, limited the former North Reading High standout to just eight games last fall during her sophomore season, but the Falcons were 6-0-2 in her eight starts.
A two-time Globe All-Scholastic and Cape Ann Player of the Year, the 5-foot-7-inch Hassapis opened this season with a three-save shutout of Dominican, 2-0, then delivered four stops in a 0-0 draw with Molloy. She had a pair of impressive saves in a 2-0 loss to Westminster (Utah), a stiff challenge in which the Griffins converted a pair of corner kicks.
Bentley coach Lauren Lukis lauded Hassapis for her overall athleticism and take-charge ability in the goalie box. “Sometimes I am in awe of how quickly she can come out of the net and make a save,” said the 17-year coach. “She is not the biggest, not the loudest, or the most technical, but she makes up for it by her pure reading of the game . . . sometimes, she is a little too hard on herself. She needs a little more self-confidence, I don’t know if she knows how good she can be.”
Hassapis is a management major with a minor in psychology. Before a midweek matchup against Northeast-10 rival New Haven, she took a few minutes to chat with the Globe.
Q. What is the key to staying healthy this year?
A. I think last year was very eye-opening and a learning experience . . . Just realizing how much I missed playing and how much I wanted to be out there. Doing [physical therapy] and making sure I could do everything to get healthy for this season was important to me.
Q. What drew you to Bentley?
A. My mom [Linda] actually runs a family company [Magical Beginnings Learning Centers], it’s early childhood programs throughout Massachusetts, and I’ve worked there since I was about 16 [as a preschool teacher]. I just love working with the kids and I aspire to take over the company some day, so I wanted to study business. I obviously wanted to play college soccer, so it all just fit together.
Q. What influence did your high school coach, Sean Killeen, have on your playing career?
A. He started with a program that didn’t make the playoffs for several years and turned the program around. We made playoffs the next three years in a row. We made it to the North final. We won my junior year. He definitely had a big impact, and he cared a lot about our team. He showed a lot of support for my soccer career . . . I think being named player of the league my junior year was definitely eye opening for me because it made me realize the potential I had in the future.
Q. Best save of your college career?
A. My freshman year, the first time I got to start. I remember being super nervous because we were playing one of the elite teams at the time, Southern New Hampshire University. I remember it being upwards of 18 shots or something which is a lot. I just remember that game because afterwards some of the girls came up to me and gave me recognition which helped me build my confidence.
Q. The Bentley program has hovered around .500 for your career. What do you envision ahead?
A. I think there’s a great dynamic and team unity this year. Our whole team is fighting and striving for a common goal. We want to send a message to the [Northeast-10] that our team is not here just to be recognized for our academics, but that we are here to compete and raise the level of play.
Q. Your favorite class?
A. I took a psychology course last semester, it was called “psychology of self.” I thought that was super fascinating because it related a bunch of things together and the professor was super awesome. She made it more of an open environment, more of a discussion-based course rather than sit down and be lectured kind of class.
I’m currently in interpersonal relations which is super cool because it’s all about working throughout the workplace and learning how to create a better environment with your employees, which will be super beneficial for my line of work in the future.
Q. What attracted you to teaching preschool?
A. I was exposed to the company at a young age. I watched my mom grow it from a small home daycare into this company that she has today, which was super inspirational because my mom is my biggest motivation. I definitely love working with the kids. I work with usually 3- to 4-year-olds in a classroom of about 16. They are just so awesome, it’s amazing to see. I watch them grow from when they first get there and they are less than 1 year old, to when they are 5 going off to kindergarten. They’re just amazing.
I’ve always liked to help kids. I actually work for the Top Soccer program. I work with children with disabilities and help coach them to play soccer. That’s also super awesome and has influenced my love for teaching.