Despite past injuries and struggles faced, Fitzgerald hopes to finish strong

By Robert Janish

Senior Sports Writer

Throughout her collegiate career, senior midfielder Sabrina Fitzgerald has been an integral part of the women’s soccer program and that could not be more true than right now during her final year. Through 52 games with 36 career starts, Fitzgerald has nine goals along with five assists to go with 58 shots on goal.

Currently one of the squad’s top offensive leader this season with three goals and one assist through eight games, she has fought through so much adversity in the last twelve months to seize the opportunity to succeed in her final season at Canisius. This season, for Fitzgerald, has been four years in the making since she first joined the program in 2013.

Hailing from London, Ontario, Fitzgerald chose Canisius because “it’s close to home and it’s a great school. I’m studying Pre-Med, so they have a good reputation for their academic program.” She added how she was also offered a scholarship and spot on the team, “so it all tied together.”

With the college adjustment, adding on top the fact that she now lives in a different country playing for a Division I program “makes it even more of an adjustment, but I think there is a period where there’s a little period where it is a little bit overwhelming, then you get really good with time management and find a way to get through it,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald says it’s a little easier “to give it everything because it is your last year, so it’s just the last day for everything and makes it easier to leave it all out there.”

“I think [Fitzgerald] is probably, one of the most physically gifted, as an athlete that I’ve ever played with or ever seen,” senior midfielder Hannah Chesney said. She adds how Fitzgerald’s ability to find the ball is amazing to watch.

Senior goalkeeper and forward Kathleen Lawver believes Fitzgerald has matured greatly, both athletically and academically throughout these last four years. “She’s so talented on and off the field with academics and soccer and she’s a great example for every underclassmen and even upperclassmen on this team,” Lawver added.

This time last year, Sabrina Fitzgerald was forced to watch her team from the sidelines after suffering a tough shin splints injury. However, it is how she overcame it throughout the last 12 months that brought her to this point that makes this year, for her, so special and amazing to watch for us all.

Chesney said Fitzgerald was out for most of last season with shin splints, which kept her out for a majority of the year, “but she came back, and I think the first game she was back, she had a goal and an assist, so she’s one of those players that bounces back real quick from injuries.” She also referred Fitzgerald picking up where she left off as learning how to ride a bike and that you never forget once you learn.

Last season, Fitzgerald missed most of her junior year due to shin splints and “I feel like that’s helped me to be more motivated because I feel more fortunate to be playing, so it makes me want to do my best all the time because I’m lucky to be able to play.”

As a leader of this team, “[Fitzgerald] does a good job of maintaining composure at all times and really sticking up for what she believes in,” Chesney said. Chesney added how Fitzgerald and herself have been roommates for the past three years and they have been spending so much time together and learned about each other as well. “The chemistry definitely develops when you’re hanging out in your room watching TV and outside of soccer as well.”

Lawver said Fitzgerald put all her energy in academics after suffering through her injury last year, “and as soon as she was able to get back, she was putting time in working out, getting stronger.”

She added how Fitzgerald scored before the end of last year against Rider and “she brought that same mentality into the beginning of this year and she’s been absolutely fantastic for us.”

Lawver believes it is Fitzgerald’s personality that helps her succeed. “She’s always been able to find the positive in everything and she’s real good at taking everything as it is, whether for the worst or for the best and she always puts her best foot forward.”

Fitzgerald strives to be a role model for her younger teammates “and I try to do that by leading with example.” While she may not be the loudest, Sabrina strives “to do my best always and hope it inspires others.”

I think she was mature from the get go,” Chesney said of Fitzgerald’s maturity throughout these years.” As a result of her commitment to school and various activities, including community service as well, “has gotten bigger and better as the years have gone on.”

Lawver believes Fitzgerald can be great at achieving a balance with everything in life “and she’s a great person to talk to about all the aspects of stress, and school and soccer, and life and just being in college. She understands that balance of making sure everything has equal energy put towards it.”

“An example that [Fitzgerald] leaves is to be a well-rounded athlete and a well-rounded student, but being a well-rounded person,” Lawver said. She says that Sabrina has real admirable attributes and “I think underclassmen will definitely look up to her and take her legacy after she leaves.”

When her year concludes, Fitzgerald hopes she could leave a positive impact as well as change for the better considering the turnover that has occurred during her tenure, the most important of which was a new head coaching hire a couple years ago. “I’m just doing that by working my hardest and take each day as it comes.”

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