Maggie Murnane might be the most recognizable player involved with the Ohio women’s soccer program. But her journey to the top has been anything but easy.
The Libertyville, Ill., native has wanted to be a college soccer player since she was 12 years old, and she took the necessary steps to her achieve her ultimate goal.
“I played in a typical travel team league, and I found out that there was a better club for me to join that would give me more exposure to colleges,” Murnane said. “The club was called Eclipse Select, and my mom told me that if I wanted to play college soccer, I had to leave my friends from my club team behind. I told my mom that I would join Eclipse Select because it was a dream of mine to play collegiate soccer. I’m glad I did it because I won nationals my junior year of high school, which gave me the exposure to colleges.”
Murnane, who currently plays in a central midfield role for Ohio, says that her biggest strength as a soccer player is her hard work and her passion for the game. The senior currently leads the team in goals with three and points with seven. Murnane also has one assist to her name.
Eventually, the time came for Murnane to consider her long-term future. She knew exactly what she was looking for when examining colleges.
“I started looking at colleges my sophomore and junior years of high school, and I was looking for a small school,” Murnane said. “I knew Ohio was recruiting me, but I thought it was a huge school, so I turned my focus to Miami (Ohio) and Dayton.”
Murnane chose Dayton because of the small school atmosphere. She said that the soccer coach at Dayton needed an impact player, and the school had the pre-physical therapy major that she was looking for.
Murnane arrived at Dayton, and despite being named preseason all-rookie, things did not go as planned.
“It was a struggle for me,” Murnane said. “Things didn’t mesh with me. I couldn’t do what I knew I could do on the field. I met with my coach often and things still didn’t click. It was driving me crazy. All I wanted to do was make an impact.”
Murnane knew she had to make a change. Either she was going to transfer to a new school or give up soccer completely. She chose the former.
“I was in a rut, and I needed to figure something out,” Murnane said. “Nicole Amari sent me a Facebook message saying that 10 seniors were leaving Ohio and that I would be perfect for them. I called the coach and I realized I was so naive when I was younger. Ohio has such an amazing campus.”
Even though she began to fall out of love with soccer while she was at Dayton, Murnane was provided with a lifeline during her junior year when she decided to transfer to Ohio. Murnane credits then-coach Stacy Strauss and her teammates for making the transition to Ohio an easy one.
“She (Strauss) needed someone to make an impact on the field,” Murnane said. “The girls were accepting. With 10 seniors gone, I was able to get on the field right away and show what I could do.”
After a successful junior season at Ohio, Murnane’s college career took another twist. The coach who was responsible for bringing her to Ohio would not be on the sideline during her senior year.
“When she first left, I started crying,” Murnane said. “She took me under her wing and helped me find my love for soccer again.”
Aaron Rodgers was named the new Ohio women’s soccer coach in December, and Murnane’s initial meeting with her third coach in four years was a positive one.
“Aaron reminds me of one of my club coaches,” Murnane said. “His requirements of his players are what I’m looking for. He pushes his players to reach their full potential. He trusts me to do my best for the team.”
Rodgers, who has led the Bobcats to a 4-2-2 record through his first eight games lauded Murnane for her tremendous skills she brings to the team.
“Maggie is a tremendous worker,” Rodgers said. “She is a talented player who is extremely fit. She does a great job of showing the younger players how to conduct themselves on and off the field.”
Rodgers believes that Murnane’s versatility and leadership have helped the Bobcats get off to a great start this season.
“Maggie is a great leader, and her goals have been important to us this season,” Rodgers said. “She has played forward a lot in her life, and we moved her back into the midfield. She helps us attack with all 11 players.”
The Bobcats will begin conference play against Bowling Green on Friday, and with plenty of conference games to come after Friday’s contest, Rodgers is holding Murnane to a high standard.
“I want her to continue to be a great leader on and off the field,” Rodgers said. “Off the field I want her to continue to lead by example and on the field I hope she continues to score goals and create more chances for the team. I also want her to defend hard with the rest of the team.”
With the season almost at the halfway mark, Murnane knows her senior season will be over before she knows it. Her future, on the other hand, is starting to take shape.
“I have been applying to PT school,” Murnane said. “It is a profession I have always wanted to do.”