After taking her time to learn the game last year, the sophomore is a starting midfielder this year.
Chloe Lonergan didn’t look at it as not playing.
She looked at it as a learning experience.
Lonergan is a sophomore on the Franklin Towne Charter High School soccer team, and last year as a freshman, she was on the varsity squad, but she spent more time watching than playing.
But she wasn’t a bench warmer. She was a bench learner, and every time her teammates were making plays, she was making mental notes of what she would do when her number was called.
“We had 12 seniors on the team and they were really good,” Lonergan said. “I didn’t expect to play much. The team was really good so I just played whenever I had a chance. When (she wasn’t playing), I just watched how they did things. I learned a lot by watching.”
While she was mostly a spectator, the Coyotes advanced to the Public League championship game before falling to Central in the finals. It wasn’t the perfect ending, but it was the perfect learning experience.
This year, Lonergan is learning on the fly. She is a starting midfielder, and what she lacks in experience, she makes up for in her dedication to her craft.
“She’s so fundamentally sound, she really is a student of the game,” said Franklin Towne coach Brianna O’Donnell. “She has improved a lot. She’ll watch the boys game, too. She’s always trying to learn.”
That’s been the plan since she started playing when she was 4.
Lonergan began her career in Fishtown when her dad signed her up for soccer. Since then, she’s been learning every day.
“I like to learn different things,” said Lonergan, who now lives by Holy Family University. “I’m still learning. I’m learning by my older teammates and my coaches. I’m still new (to high school soccer) so I’m still trying to learn.”
She must be on the fast track.
In two games thus far in Public League play, the Coyotes have outscored their foes 9–0.
Lonergan has cashed in with one goal, which equals her total from a season ago, and she’s had many other opportunities when she came close to hitting paydirt.
Scoring is fun, but it’s certainly not what makes Lonergan the asset she’s been thus far for Franklin Towne.
“The biggest thing I’m trying to do is to help the team. I had to work with the offense and the defense,” the midfielder said. “I needed to learn to be louder. When you’re playing, you have to (communicate) with the offense and the defense. I’m quiet, so that was hard for me to learn, but the players and the coaches have helped me a lot.”
They’ve also helped her with the physical aspect of the game.
Since she’s been playing soccer her entire life, Lonergan doesn’t need a lot of help with many parts of the game, but as she tries to evolve into an all-around player, she’s certainly getting pointers from her coaches and teammates.
“I want to learn how to maybe play more positions,” Lonergan said. “I like playing midfield, but I think I’d like to become a striker and play more offense, and when they need someone to play defense, they put me back there. I want to be able to play as many spots as I can because that way I can help any way.”
She’s also willing to learn new sports.
During the preseason, when she was working her way into playing shape, Lonergan showed O’Donnell a burst that could translate well to another sport.
“Coach saw me running and told me I should think about going out for track this year, so I think I’m going to do that,” she said. “I’ve always been fast, but I never ran track. I think it would help me in soccer, too, and it’s fun to try another sport.”
But before she claims medals for her speed, she hopes she can raise a banner for her play on the pitch.
Franklin Towne has dominated the Public League in recent years, and while most teams would celebrate making it to the championship game, Lonergan and her teammates use last year’s loss as motivation.
She may be a sophomore, but she’s playing this season as if it’s her last, and she wants nothing more than to bring home a Public League crown.
“I think we can go as far as we did last year because even though we had a lot of good seniors graduate, we have a lot of other good players this year,” Lonergan said. “And I think we could win the championship if we get there. There are good teams, but we’re really good. I think we can do it if we play our best.”
That’s the exact attitude her coach loves to see.
“She’s worked so hard to get better, she’s really become a good player for us,” O’Donnell said. “We needed other players to play well for us, and she’s done it. She’s really helped us.” ••