Playing on the starting lineup since a freshman, junior Delainie Regan is using her experience to help lead the team.
Delainie Regan was excited to start as a freshman.
But she wasn’t excited about everything that went along with that.
Regan is a junior on the Nazareth Academy High School soccer team, and two years ago when she arrived at the school, she and a handful of other freshmen were thrown into the starting lineup because they had the skill it takes to compete in the Catholic Academies. League.
The bad part was they were younger than a lot of their foes, which meant success didn’t immediately come.
“We’ve grown a lot since we were freshmen and that’s because we played together for three years now, so we’re a lot better,” the Torresdale resident said. “It was really tough when we were freshmen. We learned a lot, but we were really young, so it was really tough. I think the plan was building to something, and we did that.
“There were some games we got beat bad. The other teams were really good, and we were good, too, but we were young. Now we have a lot more experience.”
That experience, coupled with the hard work Regan and her teammates have put in, is paying dividends.
It’s not always evident in the standings. The Pandas are 2–3 on the season, but they are clearly a better team than they were when they played two years ago.
During that campaign, Nazareth fell to Mount St. Joseph’s Academy 6–0. This year, once again, the Mount is among the top teams in the area. It once again beat Nazareth, but this year’s result was 3–1.
“It’s a lot better this year, even though we haven’t won as many games as we want,” said Regan, who starts at defensive center midfield. “We’re so much better. That comes from all the work we put in, starting really with tryouts. We’re in good shape and we’re playing a lot better, especially as a team.
“We’re playing more soccer now, working together. We don’t try to have one player do it all. We move the ball, one or two touch, and move the ball. It’s hard, but we’re doing it better every day. The more we do it, the better we are and we’re doing it really well because we’re playing together as a team.”
It helps that their junior star is improving every day.
The lifelong soccer player is dedicated to the sport. So much so that she plays soccer all year long. When she’s not wearing a Nazareth uniform, she’s competing with her Hulmeville club team, where she plays both indoor and outdoor.
“I spend a lot of time with soccer, I’m very committed to it,” Regan said. “I pretty much play all year long. I play the same position, so I’m always working on trying to get better.
“When you’re playing midfield, you have to be in good shape because it’s a lot of running. You’ll have to go from offense to defense and back the whole game. It’s hard, but if you’re in shape, it’s a lot easier.”
It helps to have a team that focuses a lot on conditioning.
Nazareth might not be the best soccer team in the area, but according to Regan, the Pandas will always be among the fittest because of the work they put in beginning in summer camp.
“We do two weeks of nonstop running and that helps,” Regan said. “We run miles, two miles and 120s. The (120s) are sprints, you sprint for the length of the field. It’s hard, I usually finish in the middle or in the front of the middle. We’re in good shape because we do all of that, and that helps when you start playing.”
Now Regan is hoping the Pandas are in good shape for the rest of the season.
The slow start isn’t what she was hoping for, but if you’re going to struggle, it’s better to struggle in early September than in late October when the stakes are higher.
Regan knows there’s time to turn things around, and her goal is to have the Pandas firing on all cylinders by the time the regular season is coming to a close.
“I think we’re going to be playing a lot better, we’ve come a long way and we’re still improving,” Regan said. “I think it helps that we play in a tough league. We didn’t win as many games as we wanted to so far, but we’re playing better and better. That will help us.”
Regan is prepared to work hard on the field. She’s also prepared to work hard in the classroom.
Since she arrived at Nazareth, she’s maintained a grade point average of more than 4.0, which means she’s pretty much gotten only A’s. She’s hoping that success will help her in the future, when she hopes to work in the medical field.
“Math and science are my favorite subjects, so I think I’d like to do something in medicine,” Regan said. “I think I’d like to play soccer, too, but I’ll have to see how everything works out. I have time to decide.” ••