Archbishop Ryan junior Gianna Monaco is helping to lead the Ragdolls after 12 seniors graduated last year.
There were a lot of things Gianna Monaco could have done over her summer vacation.
She could have spent a lot of time down the shore, going to the beach and hanging out with her friends.
Or she could have caught up on sleep. Or she could have parked herself in front of the TV and watched Netflix.
All are great options, but they weren’t the one she picked.
Instead, along with her teammates on the Archbishop Ryan High School soccer team, she spent the summer running, lifting and getting in shape.
Sure, it wasn’t as fun as the alternatives, but it was so worth it because of how things worked out last year.
“Last year, we spent all summer working out and we complained about it a lot,” said Monaco, a junior striker. “But after we won the championship, I wasn’t complaining anymore. It was the best feeling ever. Every workout we did was worth it. Winning the championship was the best feeling in the world.”
Monaco put in even more work this summer, and the results have been apparent. She has a team-high 18 goals, the same number she netted all of last year when the Ragdolls won the Catholic League and District 12 championships and then played in the state playoffs.
This year, the Ragdolls and Monaco have a lot more soccer to play and the goals could keep on coming.
But Monaco is quick to pass the credit for her scoring to all of her teammates and the coaching staff.
“We’re playing a different way this year, and the midfielders have been great at getting the ball to us,” Monaco said. “We’re playing really well offensively. Last year, we were more of a defensive team, and we’re still good on defense, but this year we’re scoring a lot more. It’s like a different philosophy, we’re trying to play much better offense.”
A lot of that is Monaco.
A lot of it is new faces on the team.
Last year, when the Ragdolls went undefeated in Catholic League play and won the championship, the team was full of seniors. In fact, 12 graduated in June. That means there’s a lot of new faces on this year’s squad. The players might not be as seasoned as they were last year, but according to Monaco, they’re every bit as talented.
“I think we have a lot of skill this year and that’s why we’re scoring more,” Monaco said. “Last year, we had skill, but we had a great defense and we won that way. This year, we’re winning differently. We still have a great defense, but we play a different style. It’s going well. We’re trying to use our skill to beat teams.”
So far, it’s going pretty well.
The Ragdolls figured to improve as the season goes on and so far that’s been the case. Unlike last year, they did suffer a loss, a 2–1 setback at the hands of Lansdale Catholic. They followed up that loss, however, with a victory over Archbishop Wood, another top contender in the Catholic League and on Monday, defeated Little Flower 1–0 with the only goal scored by Monaco.
The win gives Ryan an 8–1 record. They are in second place, a half game behind Lansdale Catholic, which sits at 9–1.
“I think we can win the championship again, definitely, we have the talent,” Monaco said. “There are other good teams too,. We just have to work hard every day in practice and keep getting better as a team. If we do that, we can play with anyone.”
Monaco has been doing a lot to help the Ragdolls with her feet this fall, and she intends to do the same in the winter.
She hopes to help organize Ryan’s Thon, which raises money for children battling cancer.
It’s a cause close to her heart because in the past, along with her friends, she helped organize a soccer tournament to benefit the same cause.
Now she hopes she can continue that mission through Thon.
“When you see children who are going through that, it really shows you how hard it is for them to go through it,” Monaco said. “I’m hoping I can get involved, mostly help organize it on the day. Just do whatever I can. I really want to help out. It’s a fun day for a great cause.”
That’s not the only way Monaco is stepping up this year.
Last year, Monaco proved she could be one of the best scorers in the Catholic League when she helped lead the Ragdolls to the title. This year, she’s helping out in other ways.
“Last year, I was just a sophomore, so I didn’t do too much talking,” the Somerton resident said. “But we lost a lot of seniors, so this year I’m trying to be more of a leader. I’m still just a junior, but I have a lot of experience because I’ve played a lot, so I’m trying to help.
“Last year, the seniors were great leaders. Most of the captains are four-year starters because they have experience. We have good seniors this year, but I’m just trying to help out where I can.”
She just hopes the help leads to a repeat.
“I told all of the new girls, we all told the new girls, winning the championship is the best feeling in the world,” Monaco said. “It made all the hard work worth it. I think it felt good because of how hard we worked.”