Playing soccer for the Ragdolls has done a lot to change Emily DeLuisi.
DeLuisi is a junior midfielder on the Archbishop Ryan High School girls soccer team, and she’s been a contributor on the field since she arrived. As a freshman she played about 10 minutes a half, and she’s been a starter the last two years.
But she hasn’t just improved as a player. She’s now a much different person.
“When I got here, I was a little shy,” said DeLuisi, who lives in Chalfont. “I’m much different now. I’m a lot more outgoing and confident. That’s from playing soccer.
“I think it’s everything to do with being around the team. When you get here the seniors are so welcoming and they help you so much. You learn to be more confident. I try to be like that. I’m not afraid to be vocal now. Playing here has changed me a lot. It’s definitely helped me. It’s helped me with soccer and in other (areas), too.”
DeLuisi has a reason to be talkative about her soccer season because the Ragdolls enjoyed a fantastic season.
They went unbeaten in Catholic League play and went on to win the Catholic League championship by beating Archbishop Wood in the finals. Next up was the District 12 championship, where Ryan easily got past Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush, which gave the Ragdolls a top seed in the state 3A playoffs.
First up for Ryan was a game against Strath Haven, and Ryan emerged victorious 4-2. In that one, DeLuisi scored a pair of goals early in the game to give the Ragdolls momentum they carried to the victory.
The Ragdolls followed that up with a 1-0 overtime win against Dallas. Caitlin Geiger netted the goal that sent Ryan to the state semifinals, where it met Villa Joseph Marie in a game that was played after the Times went to press. A win sends the Ragdolls to Hershey to play for a state championship on Saturday.
“Winning a game in the state playoffs was big because I think it showed people that we’re good outside the city, too,” said DeLuisi, who has scored 10 goals on the season. “It was big for us. I scored early, so I think that gave us confidence, and everyone played really well. Strath Haven was good, so it was fun to beat them.”
DeLuisi wears a lot of hats for the Ragdolls, but her primary job is getting the offense rolling.
As a midfielder, she has to lead the team’s transition game from defense to offense. And it’s something she’s excelled at in the past few seasons, and she attributes that to her team’s bond.
“I’ve been a midfielder and I have a lot of experience doing it at Ryan, so I have pretty good vision and I see everything I need to see pretty well,” DeLuisi said. “And I have great chemistry with one of the best strikers in the area (Gianna Monaco), so that helps get the offense going.
“I do my best to get the ball to my strikers’ foot, and put them in position to score. We have the best striker, but it’s not just her and me, we have such a good team. The entire team has great chemistry and we all play so well together. I think that’s what made us such a great team and it’s the reason we had a great year.”
The Ragdolls have a talented senior class that will graduate in June, which means they will have a lot of key pieces to replace when they return for the 2020 season. But DeLuisi isn’t too worried about it. In fact, she’s excited about what lies ahead.
While she will miss her senior mates, she thinks the team will be just fine going forward.
“This was a great team, we have great seniors, but we also have good young players, great backups and a great (junior varsity) team,” DeLuisi said. “That helped us so much this year. And the good thing is a lot of those girls learned a lot this year and got better. That’s how we got better, and I think they’ll be ready next year.
“This year was so much better, especially winning the (Catholic League) championship. We won as a freshman, which was great, and last year we lost, which was devastating. This year, to win it when I was more of a person who was helping, that was great. Things just got better.”
So will DeLuisi.
She’ll continue to be a mentor to other students through her school’s ambassador program, and she’ll also be counted on to be more of a leader next year when she’s a senior.
Not only will she have the experience, but thanks to everything she learned as a Ragdoll, she’ll be the perfect leader.
“I think I can use what I’ve learned to help others,” said DeLuisi, who also plays club soccer and will be the point guard on the Our Lady of Calvary CYO basketball team. “I’m excited about everything next year. This year was great and next year could be just as great.”