Former Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey player takes her talents to the pitch

Photo Courtesy: Quinnipiac Athletics

By: Sierra Goodwill

A four-year career with the nationally ranked Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey team, highlighted by an ECAC Championship and NCAA tournament appearance, was not enough for Emma Greco.

The former defender on the ice will take her talents to the pitch, earning her way onto the Quinnipiac women’s soccer team.

Greco graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in marketing in May, but is returning to Hamden for one more year to pursue a Masters in Business Administration (MBA). Her hope was to be able to be a part of a team again.

“I had to give up soccer before college for hockey, so I thought this was a perfect opportunity to try out for soccer,” she said. “I played both sports at the top level and it wasn’t really clear what I wanted to pick, but I knew I was going to have to choose at some point because as you get older it gets more demanding.”

While the Ontario native from Aldershot High School ultimately chose hockey, the decision wasn’t always so clear.

“The University of Maine sent out recruiting emails and one day I got one for hockey and like the next day I got one for soccer,” Greco said. “I thought that was funny because they probably had no idea that they were recruiting the same person for each sport.”

She even considered playing both at the collegiate level, but quickly realized the physical demand would be overwhelming.

“I went for a university soccer tour with my team one time and I met someone who played soccer and hockey for University of Maine. So I was thinking about that, but then I just realized that that would be so tough,” Greco said.

When Quinnipiac offered Greco a scholarship for ice hockey, it was one she could not refuse.

Growing up in Canada, hockey was a lifestyle and she had the opportunity to not only play at her dream school, but also make quite an impact from the start.

Greco played in 144 career games, ranked 10th all-time in program history. During her career she totaled 25 points on two goals and 23 assists. One of her most notable performances came in the 2016-17 season. After boasting a career high 10 points in the regular season, she tallied a goal and an assist in the postseason helping to lead the Bobcats to their first-ever conference championship and second NCAA Tournament appearance.

Dave Clarke, the head coach of the women’s soccer team, is looking forward to having that competitive edge and experience on his team.

“She is older, has experience as a division I athlete at Quinnipiac and now has a chance at a second career which not many players can claim,” Clarke said. “She has size, strength, and is very competitive. So if she brings that last quality and some leadership to the team it will be a bonus for us.”

Making her way on to the soccer field was not a quick and easy process for Greco. She worked towards getting a tryout for a long time, realizing Clarke would first have to approve.

“Emma reached out to me over a year ago and discussed the possibility of playing soccer after her senior year,” the head coach said. “I spoke to her and the hockey staff at the time and said we would discuss again when the 2016-17 hockey season was over. She played soccer at a decent level until she had to choose hockey as her pathway, so I knew she had a background in the game.”

In high school, Greco helped lead Aldershot soccer to the U17 Ontario Cup finals in her junior season. Her team also took home the U17 League Championship that same year.

Clarke only had the opportunity to see parts of Greco’s skillset, so he reached out to her former coaches for insight about her specific strengths and weaknesses.

“Once playoffs were happening senior year it was like hockey could be over at any minute, so I let him know that,” Greco said. “He said that once I was done I should take a week off to give my body a break and then we’ll go from there. So by that time it was around spring break and ever since then I’ve gone out every day with them.”

Those spring sessions were Greco’s tryout period. Clarke had several weeks to assess her abilities before he made a decision whether to add her to the roster or not. Ultimately, he was impressed with what he saw.

“She did well in the sessions during the spring and her understanding of the game and adjustment to the speed of play was evident.”

Greco felt comfortable with the entire process thanks to her familiarity with the members of the team and her constant communication with Clarke.

“It didn’t feel like a tryout because I was with them every day and I lifted with them and got to know them really well. When we went out there were some drills and then we would scrimmage,” she said. “We were just playing. I wasn’t under pressure. He always said that he was going to tell me if it wasn’t right. He said he wasn’t going to waste my time if it ever gets to a point where we both think it’s not working.”

More went into Clarke’s decision than just saying yes or no. Greco understood that players with a full four years of eligibility may be more valuable to the team than a player like her with only one.

“I went into the end of the year being ok with it not working out, but being happy if it did work out,” Greco said. “I applied for a working visa just in case. But at the end of the year, he told me that I made it. I was really excited.”

The defender is expected to add depth to the back line, but is also ready to contribute in any way she can. Especially in facets of the game that aren’t physical.

“I’m not going to go in there expecting a bunch of things or expecting to play a lot because I know girls have been there way longer than I have,” Greco said. “I’ve been on a championship team where we’re always expected to win. I hope to bring that mentality to the soccer team because last year they made it to the MAAC Championship and it can happen again. In hockey we were always trying to take it to the next level, we were never satisfied. I want to bring that dynamic.”

While there are clear differences between hockey and soccer, Greco says the most important aspect is the same on both teams.

“Everybody is super passionate and you can tell everyone wants to be there. Dave Clarke wants to win. He also doesn’t want to ruin the sport for anyone,” she said. “That happens a lot in sports where you get a bad coach and it makes you not want to play. He’s always making it exciting so no one gets sick of the sport.”

While Greco embarks on this new chapter during her time at Quinnipiac, what she is most excited about is quite simple.

“Just being part of a team again. When hockey was over I was kind of like ‘where am I going?’ I love being part of a team and I’m so excited to see how the season goes. I want to make an impact, whether it is on the field or off the field.”

The Quinnipiac women’s soccer team’s first regular season game is scheduled for August 18, 2017 on the road against the College of the Holy Cross.

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