Sam Pastino always finds a way to help her team.
No matter what it needs from her.
Pastino is a senior defender on the Archbishop Ryan High School soccer team. Last year she found herself starting at the beginning of the season, but after some formation changes, in most games, she found herself on the sidelines.
She still played a lot and was still one of the better defenders in the Catholic League, but she wasn’t on the field when the game started.
It’s never easy to make that move, but Pastino made sure she stayed well involved with the team. And just because she wasn’t on the field didn’t mean she couldn’t have an impact on the game.
“I always tried to help anyway I can,” said Pastino, who lives in Torresdale. “It was hard because I was used to being on the field in the beginning of the game, so it was a little hard, but I made sure to cheer them on and made sure they did the best they could. I tried to help them any way I could, either playing or on the sidelines.”
This year, Pastino didn’t have much time on the sidelines, though she kept that same attitude of being there for her teammates in every way possible. It’s why she was selected as a captain, and she rarely came off the field, manning the centerback position.
And led by her defense, the Ragdolls once again were a tough team in the Catholic League and advanced to the semifinals of the playoffs. That’s as far as they made it. The Ragdolls were ousted from the playoffs by Lansdale Catholic 3-0. The win puts the Crusaders in the Catholic League championship against Archbishop Wood and ended the season of the Ragdolls. It didn’t end the way Pastino and her teammates had hoped for, but it’s hard to be anything but happy with the way the season went down.
The Ragdolls were hit hard by the injury bug. The biggest loss was a leg injury to Gianna Rivera. The junior led the team in scoring during her sophomore year, and will be back next year. But her absence left a huge void in the Ragdolls’ offense.
“We had a very good team that got better,” Pastino said. “In the beginning of the season, we didn’t play too well. We got better. I think our defense was pretty good because we had a lot of seniors back there. We were all seniors with one freshman. So hopefully we helped them in the future.
“Missing Gianna was hard, she’s so good. It’s hard when you’re missing anyone, and she’s such a good player. It made this year, especially on offense, harder. But they got better, too. I think we improved a lot as a team.”
This wasn’t the first time Rivera and Pastino were teammates. During the summer, they won a national championship while playing for the Coppa Rage. It was a huge milestone for the Rage after finishing second the year before.
Winning a national championship is a great feeling, but Pastino, who was named First-Team All-Catholic, wanted to pair it with another plaque she really wanted.
“Winning a national championship means a lot, but winning the Catholic League would have been very big because of how hard we play for it,” Pastino said. “We won when we were freshmen, but I wasn’t part of that team. We didn’t have a championship my sophomore year, and we didn’t win it junior or senior year. I really wanted to win one when I was one of the ones playing, but it’s hard to win a Catholic League championship. But I think they’re going to be competitive next year, and they could win it. There’s a lot of good players coming back.”
Pastino won’t be there, but there’s a good chance she’ll still be competing for championships. Next year she’s bound for Holy Family.
“I’m probably going to play college soccer (at) Holy Family. There’s a few Ryan girls there, two or three who graduated from Holy Family. It’s right down the street, it’s a small school, I didn’t want to go far. It’s right down the street from my house.”
She also has a good idea of what she’s going to study.
“I’m not entirely sure, but probably something in nursing,” said Pastino, an honor student in the classroom. “I really like helping people and that’s a good job for that. I’m not sure what I’d want to do, I’m still figuring everything out, but I know that’s a job I would like to do.”
That will also be a great job where she can put her leadership skills on display.
This year, she was selected to be a team captain, and that was a huge honor for her because of how much she cares about the Ryan soccer team. It also gave her a chance to lead by example and show the underclassmen what it means to play for the Ragdolls.
“Honestly, the best part of the season was when I was told I was named captain,” Pastino said. “I think because it was this team. This was my favorite year playing, and it’s why we were so upset when the season was over.
“I think we had four really good captains who loved the team. I think at practice, we always worked together, we knew what we wanted to do. We all had that mindset. Having four of us who really loved the team, our goal was to win. And we had great careers here. It meant so much to us.
“We just had such a great group of girls. We all loved playing soccer. It was my last year, so I wanted to work as hard as I could for the team. I think we all did that, so it was a great season. We had a great time and worked hard. It was a great year.”