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Shaler grad Schwartz shines at Behrend

| Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016, 12:12 a.m.
Shaler grad Megan Schwartz plays for Penn State Behrend women's soccer.
Penn State Behrend athletics
Shaler grad Megan Schwartz plays for Penn State Behrend women's soccer.

Megan Schwartz has carved out a defined role for the Penn State Behrend women's soccer team.

Schwartz is asked to provide a spark for an already dynamic offense. The Lions finished their season as the No. 4 scoring team in Division III, averaging 4.15 goals.

Earning a spot on such a competitive team has been an all-around boon for Schwartz.

“Being a part of this group has helped me tremendously, not only athletically but with school,” said Schwartz, a Shaler graduate. “I've been a competitive person all my life, and we didn't get the best results at Shaler.

“Being on a winning team here and being surrounded by people motivated to succeed drives me to be the best.”

Schwartz scored five times and added two assists for Behrend. The Lions' season ended last Friday with a 3-1 loss to No. 4 Thomas More in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Behrend finished 16-5 and won its sixth straight Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference championship. Lions coach Patrick O'Driscoll said Schwartz had a starring role.

“She comes off the bench with a ton of energy and gives us a spark,” O'Driscoll said. “She plays really hard, fast and energetic. She scored her five goals in seven games at the end of the year, and some of her goals were really composed finishes.”

Being comfortable on the field was something Schwartz had to work back into. She missed her senior high school season with a torn ACL.

Schwartz returned for Behrend's preseason scrimmages last year. She ended up finishing fourth on the team with seven goals.

“I would say last year I definitely played more cautiously, and it had a lot to do with the mental aspect,” Schwartz said. “I think I've gotten that out this year. I've blocked out the memory of the injury as much as a I can.”

O'Driscoll became interested in recruiting Schwartz after seeing her play club soccer as a junior. When he found out she was interested in the Lions and they had her major, engineering, O'Driscoll made sure to get her into the program.

“I thought she was under the radar,” O'Driscoll said. “The big thing is she's a phenomenal athlete. Her off-the-ball movement is much improved from her freshman year. She's coachable, and add her physical gifts makes for an effective player.”

Those talents allow her to help out in a number of ways. Schwartz is happy to be the spark plug.

“I like being the person that can come in and change the game,” Schwartz said. “I like to help the team any way I can.”

Josh Rizzo is a freelance writer.

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