Men's Sports Sports Women's Sports

Athletes of the Week: Football’s Jonathan Marrero and Women’s Soccer’s Nina Vital

Billy Peterson
Contributing Writer

Nina Vital

The Springfield Pride Women’s Soccer team currently sits atop the NEWMAC standings, and the play of Nina Vital has had a lot to do with the team’s success. In a 4-2 win against Mount Holyoke on Saturday Oct. 22, Vital recorded a hat trick. The junior from Ludlow has added an assist in the past three games to go along with the hat trick, which has helped the Pride to a three game winning streak; it’s longest of the season. Vital leads the team in goals scored with seven, assists with four and total points with 18. The Pride will look to finish the last week of the regular season off strong with games against Roger Williams on Tuesday Oct. 23, and Saturday at Wellesley on Saturday Oct. 27.

Q. Do you think the team can carry its momentum into the NEWMAC Tournament?

A. Yes we are playing well, and towards the end of the season we have been really focused. We always do well in big games.

Q. What did you do to improve over the off-season?

A. I play all the time. In the summer I play on a Women’s club team, and I play indoor soccer in the winter. I also trained with my brother Shawn DaCruz who plays soccer at WNEU.

Q. What does the team need to do to win the tournament this year?

A. We have to finish on our opportunities in the final third of the field. We’ve been playing very well together and we just need to translate that over to the tournament.

Q.  How did it feel to score a hat trick?

A. It felt awesome. Even scoring one goal is great, so scoring three in one game was very good. My teammates set me up with some nice passes and my coach was proud.

Jonathan Marrero

Not many eyes were on freshman quarterback Jonathan Marrero at the begging of the season. Marrero came into the season last on the team’s depth chart at quarterback, and even considered red shirting this year. Now, just eight weeks later, Marrero has made a name for himself leading the Pride to a 2-2 record as a starter. In a win on Saturday Oct. 13 against Merchant Marine, Marrero combined for seven touchdowns with three coming on the ground and four through the air. This past Saturday Oct. 20, following a three rushing and four touchdown performance the week before, Marrero led the charge against St. Lawrence rushing for over 100 yards and two touchdowns in the team’s 33-20 victory. Along the way Marrero has earned the NEWFA Weekly Gold Helmet Award and was named the Liberty League Offensive Performer of the Week following his performance against Merchant Marine. Marrero gives all the credit to the Roach offensive line, saying that they are the heart of the offense and without them the offense will not function.

Q. Do you feel confident going into your 5th week as the team’s starting quarterback?

A. I feel very confident going into my 5th week of play. My teammates believe in me, and I believe in my team. As a unit right now we are playing well and can finish this season off strong.

Q. What has been the key your to success so early in your career?

A. Support has been the key to OUR success. Support from my teammates, coaches, and family. They all believe in me and without them, especially my offensive line, I wouldn’t be able to get it done.

Q. As a freshman, was it at all difficult to adjust to the college level of play?

A. I think in any sport coming into the collegiate level is always difficult to adjust to the style of play. It’s faster, stronger, and just all around more competitive. It was tough for me when I first got here, and I still haven’t completely adjusted but my team is pushing me to do my best and give a full out effort, and the coaches don’t expect anything less. I can’t make any excuses like I’m still adjusting or anything like that, I just need to get it done and that’s it. I know my team believes in me and that’s what pushes me while playing.

Q. As a duel threat quarterback, do you prefer running or passing the ball?

A. As a quaterback runnning the triple option you need to love and learn how to run the ball. Honestly I like doing both. Not all situations always call for a run play or a pass play, so I need to be ready to do both even though we run the triple option. I have confidence in myself and so do my coaches and teammates.

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