CANTON UNITED ALUM FINDS SUCCESS AT WALSH UNIVERSITY
Kristen Conti is one of the top players in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) and she just happens to be a product of Canton United Soccer Club.
The Hartville, Ohio native is coming off a breakout season with Walsh University, where she tallied 11 goals and two assists in one of the country’s most competitive conferences. This was a huge jump in production when compared to three goals and four assists in 2013 and one goal and two assists in 2012. As a result she was showered with awards including All-GLIAC, Team Offensive Player of the Year, and Team MVP honors.
Conti has clearly grown as a player since her early days of high school and club soccer and she credits Canton United for much of that progress.
“They really knew what they were doing. They found my strengths and helped me with my weaknesses. They worked with me individually, giving me more 1-on-1 instruction. My parents were happy with that.”
The Cavaliers are hoping for another big season from the Lake HS graduate, knowing that she is the talismanic striker that makes their attack so potent.
Conti is known for her quick decision-making and playmaking abilities. She is especially dangerous when making runs or going 1 v 1 with the keeper.
Scoring goals is all about timing and that is something she has worked on over the past three seasons. The end result has been a very high shot-to-goal ratio.
Conti has been reunited with Damien Marchione, her coach at Canton United and the club’s current director, since he is also an assistant coach at Walsh. The familiarity was certainly helpful for the young forward.
“I really liked his coaching style. I wanted to get better and he wanted that too and I have improved since my freshman year.”
Marchione is equally excited to be working with Conti once again.
“She really brings such a great dynamic to the team because not only is she a major threat on the field, but has a fantastic sense of humor and rarely lets the seriousness of pressure situations get to her. It’s a great balance because she plays with kind of a free spirit without a burden of expectation so if you look closely you almost see her personality in the way she moves on the field.”
Very few of her high school teammates played club soccer so she knew she needed to do more to get the opportunity to play at the collegiate level. Spending time with Canton United did just that, helping make the transition from high school to club to college soccer that much easier.
That’s important as the collegiate game is literally a whole new game. The speed of play is incredibly fast, forcing players to make quick decisions. The quality of the players themselves is higher as is the level of competition. And most importantly, players are older and more experienced.
Finding yourself among nationally ranked programs in the GLIAC makes every game a challenge and Conti found herself in the middle of it all from Day One. Michigan Tech, Ohio Dominican, Saginaw Valley, and Grand Valley State are all formidable opponents for Walsh, a program that is now building a name for itself in Division II.
Walsh has experienced a lot of success in this challenging environment. In 2014 they found themselves in many close games, going into overtime five times and finishing with a number of ties. But much more is expected this fall as the Cavaliers are loaded with talent and Conti is leading the charge. It could be a very good time to be a soccer fan in North Canton, Ohio.
Photo Credit: Logan Smith/Walsh University