It wasn’t your typical soccer season.
Usually, the Archbishop Ryan High School girls soccer team has a long list of goals, and among them are to win the Catholic League championship and to make a long run in the state tournament, with an ultimate goal of winning it all.
And usually the Ragdolls run through the list, checking off wins until they secure a PCL title, and then continue it for as long as they stay alive in the state tournament.
This year wasn’t the same. And this year, the Ragdolls accomplished their biggest goal.
“Honestly, the one thing we wanted to do was have a season and play together again,” said senior midfielder Emily Deluisi, who helped the Ragdolls win Catholic League crowns during her freshman and junior seasons. “We would have loved to play for a PCL championship, but we didn’t have it, and we would have loved to go far in states. We did play, but we lost (in penalty kicks), but the biggest thing was just playing.
“When things were going on with COVID, we didn’t know what was going to happen. We thought we weren’t going to have a season, but then we did. It would have been great to win championships, but I was just happy I had a chance to have another time to play with these girls and for these coaches. Just to play with this team was great.
“It was so important. It was my last year with Ryan, and it wasn’t what we wanted, it wasn’t the greatest season. But we got to play last time, it was an amazing experience. I got to spend one last time with my amazing team and my amazing coach.”
Deluisi and her teammates got to reunite on the field this fall. The team fared well in Catholic League play, but unlike other seasons, there was no Catholic League championship to compete for since the teams got a late start.
But Deluisi, a Chalfont resident, didn’t play games like they didn’t matter. Instead, she went out and had a great year, securing a first-team All-PCL selection, and then locking up a spot on the All-State team.
Deluisi’s soccer career at Ryan is over, but she will continue it next year when she plays at Rider University in Lawrence Township, New Jersey, which is less than an hour away from her home.
“I verbally committed in March,” Deluisi said. “It was right before everything shut down. I was happy to do it early. I love the school, I didn’t really want a big school, I like that it’s kind of smaller, and I didn’t want to go far, and it’s pretty local. I like that I can go home and see my family. And Maddie Maguire from Nazareth is going there. I’ve played against her, so that will be good.”
She got the same vibe from the Rider team that she got from Ryan, but all won’t be the same. Instead of playing center midfield, the position she played the last three years at Ryan, she’ll play centerback in college, the same position she plays with her club team, FC Delco.
“I played midfield at Ryan because I wanted to be on the ball a lot more and create chances,” Deluisi said. “When I first went to FC Delco, I played center-mid, but then as time went on, someone got hurt, I played centerback and I got pretty good at it. At Ryan, I could have done either, but I wanted to stay at midfield.
“I like both positions a lot, but now I feel like centerback is more my position, so I’m glad that’s what I’ll be doing next year.”
Also next year, she’ll be majoring in education.
“Education interests me because I love working with children, younger kids,” Deluisi said. “I want to teach, I think middle school or something. Not too young. But teaching is something I can see myself doing.”
It’s no surprise she’ll enjoy teaching. She’s been a great leader for the Ryan soccer team for the last few years, and she’s always looking for ways to make those around her better.
“I was glad we had this year because I was able to be a leader and just help the young girls be ready to play,” Deluisi said. “I remember when I was starting freshman year, we had great leaders, so I tried to do the same. I think the younger players understand that me and the other seniors, we love playing Ryan soccer. Our attitudes reflected on the freshmen, sophomores and juniors. We’re a family, and we want to win PCL and states. That’s our expectations.”
Deluisi is now focused on finishing her senior year on a high note.
Just as she wanted to get back on the soccer field at Ryan, she is now hoping to return full-time to the classroom with her friends. She has only about five months left of high school, so she hopes hybrid learning ends soon.
“I miss all my friends, I just want to get back to normal,” said Deluisi, who is also a student ambassador, showing prospective students and their families around the school. “I want to get back, have fun and finish up strong. Going to Ryan was the best decision I ever made, I loved playing with my amazing team and my amazing coaches. It was perfect.”