Franklin Towne Charter’s Colon chipping in many ways

Reclaiming the crown isn’t sophomore Nicolette Colon’s main goal — it’s her only goal.

Nicolette Colon (right) is more comfortable playing defense, but enjoys the challenge of playing midfield. PHOTO: NICOLETTE COLON

Nicolette Colon is a defender by trade.

She’s a midfielder by necessity.

And no matter where she lines up, the Franklin Towne Charter High School sophomore does everything she can to make sure the Coyotes are in position to win.

“I’ve played defense my whole life, I love playing it, but when they needed someone to play midfield, I was definitely looking forward to the challenge,” said Colon, who has a goal and six assists since changing positions midway through the season to give the offense a boost. “It’s a lot more running, so I have to play smarter and make smart runs.

“I still have the defensive mentality, which I think is good. Defense is my focus, but I know I have to move up and look to make runs to score. But defense is my favorite because there’s so much pressure there. I love being under pressure. It’s just you between the goalie and giving up a goal. I love that feeling of you have to stop the opponent.”

Led by Colon, Franklin Towne Charter is looking to get back into championship mode. The Coyotes won four straight Public League crowns before they fell to Central in the championship a season ago.

That was quite a disappointment to Colon, who was well aware of the school’s pedigree of collecting championships. But perhaps it was the perfect fuel to lead this year’s team to a title.

“It was very hard losing because everybody expected us to win, but it definitely motivated us,” the Mayfair resident said. “It makes us want to win it that much more this year. We’ve been working for it all year.”

Franklin Towne entered the playoffs with a 9–7–2 record, 8–2–2 in Public League play, which put the Coyotes as the №2 seed behind Central, last year’s champions.

Franklin Towne bested Science Leadership Academy in the first round of the playoffs on Friday. The win puts the Coyotes back on track to regain their crown.

That’s not Colon’s main goal, it’s her only goal.

“I knew Franklin Towne had a great soccer team when I started playing last year because I went to the grade school and I always remember them winning every year,” Colon said. “I would go to a lot of games and it was fun to watch them win.”

Colon is in her second season as a starter, but she’s been playing soccer for nearly a decade.

“I wanted to play soccer after we were in Puerto Rico visiting family and they were watching it,” Colon recalled. “I loved watching it, so I asked my parents if I could play. And right after I started playing it, I loved it.

“I loved the way the ball felt on my feet, because you have control of it.”

It didn’t take long for her to become a strong player, and while her skill level is high, it’s her soccer IQ that makes her such an asset to the Coyotes.

“To be a good soccer player, you have to be in shape,” Colon said. “But the mental part is the biggest thing for me. If you go into the game not mentally ready, you’re already beat. You have to be smart and know what you’re doing. That’s something I try to do, I try to have that attitude going in.”

And while Colon has learned a lot from her club team, Coppa, since she enrolled at Franklin Towne Charter, she’s learned a lot from her coach Brianna O’Donnell.

“Coach O’Donnell is very loud and gets very excited and it gets us all excited,” Colon said. “I love playing for her. She always encourages us and motivates us and has us ready.

“She helps us learn from our mistakes. Whenever we make a mistake, she teaches us how to not do it again.”

O’Donnell’s coaching has helped Colon a lot since she switched to midfield.

Colon always had the skill to play midfield, but her mindset was always defense first. Now she’s just as responsible for scoring as she is keeping opponents off the scoreboard.

“Playing offense, you have to be more greedy,” Colon said. “I’m still learning a lot. I think I like defense more, but I love the challenge of the new position.

In the spring, Colon will stay in shape by running track. She anticipates running on the Coyotes relay teams while also competing in sprints.

But first she has a Public League championship to try to win.

“I think we can do it, we have everything we need,” Colon said. “There are other good teams, but I think we can win it if we play together. We’ve gotten a lot better as a team. If we play together, we can beat anyone.” ••