Defender had Wright stuff to help Ragdolls

Emily Wright (center) worked her way into the starting lineup for the Ragdolls. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Emily Wright was looking forward to starting in her final year.

Then came opening day.

When Wright, a defender on the Archbishop Ryan High School soccer team, found out whom the starters were in the opener, she wasn’t among them.

This wasn’t the way she wanted to begin her final year, and she definitely knew how to rectify that.

“I think anyone would be upset or disappointed when they find out they’re not starting,” said Wright, a right outside back for the Ragdolls. “I figured there were two roads I could go, I could accept it and just not start, or I could work really hard. I went in thinking I would start and this was a reality check. I had to prove myself.”

So she asked first-year coach Scarlett Walsh what she needed to do to get on the field, and more importantly, stay on it.

“The biggest things I had to do was work on my mental strength and one v. one defending. I basically listened very carefully to what she said and every tip she gave me, I took in and examined it, and performed it. It helped me a lot.”

After a few games, Wright was inserted in the lineup against Penn Charter, late in the first half.

She never came out.

Wright became the starting right back for the Ragdolls, playing opposite Keri Gontz. She also worked closely with the team’s other defenders, sweeper Kaitlyn Brace and stopper Maddie Camillo.

That couldn’t have been a better fit since the four girls have been playing soccer together for as long as Wright can remember with Coppa.

They’re not just soccer buddies, either.

“We’ve been friends for a long time, and we met through soccer, but I think if we met outside soccer, we would still all be very good friends,” said Wright, who lives in Somerton. “It helped a lot this year because we’ve been playing together for, I can’t imagine how long. Our chemistry was off the charts.

“It’s so much better playing with girls like that because you know how they play, and you base your play off of them. It works best. They were all very good, Kait was the last person back, Maddie was our stopper, she would push up offensively, too, and me and Keri, we had to do a lot of one v. one defending. And it was good because even when we’re not playing soccer, I’m usually with them.”

The defense, along with the rest of the team, hung around each other a little longer this year because Ryan advanced to the Class 3A state semifinals. The Ragdolls fell to Radnor 2-1, one game before the state championship.

It wasn’t the ending they wanted, but they were happy that it meant playing extra games with each other.

“I think we went in to the (Catholic League) championship game nervous, and I don’t think we played our best because of that,” Wright said of her team’s loss to Archbishop Wood. “But when we got to states, we just went out and played and we were so much better.

“We won two games and I wanted to win more. But states meant the world to me because it meant we had more games together. I think we were capable of winning the championships, but we played well.”

Wright certainly has a lot to be proud of.

Beyond her improvement in soccer, she has a lot of other reasons to celebrate.

She’s on the board of Athletes Helping Athletes, a club that she takes much pride in. It partners athletes with special-needs individuals, and through it, everyone just has a great time.

“That club means so much to me, I’m on the board, the president of the school asked me last year to do it and I was so happy,” Wright said. “Just the look on their faces. They love it. I love being a part of it. I spend a lot of time with it and honestly, I would spend as much time as needed because it’s a great club.”

If Wright sounds well spoken, there’s a reason for that.

She’s ranked No. 5 in her school, and because of that she takes college courses at Holy Family. The classes are public speaking and sociology.

“The professors are the best part of the classes, they make things that aren’t exciting, exciting,” Wright said. “I want to go to class and learn. You can’t say that about every teacher, they definitely do that.”

She’s learning, but she’s looking forward to next year when she’ll learn more about her interests.

“I want to study either nursing or biology,” said Wright, who will likely go to medical school if she goes the biology route. “I’m fascinated with medical stuff. Since I was young, I would read a lot, I picked up books about it and it’s how I got information about it.”

But before college comes lacrosse, a sport she picked up last year and fell in love with.

“My religion teacher, Father Buck, he coaches the team and he told me I would be good at it,” said Wright, who will be a captain in the spring. “I tried it and I really liked it. I am looking forward to playing. It’s fun.”

Almost as much fun as soccer, or at least playing with her longtime friends.

“We’ve been friends forever, so I was sad it was over,” Wright said. “This was a great season. It wasn’t like a team, it was a family, they’re all my sisters. We all became better soccer players and better players playing for Scarlett. It was a great year.”