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Boland healthy and ready to captain Irish

Dan Tapetillo | Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Mary Boland’s college career did not begin when she was recruited by the Irish four years ago. It began at the age of 16.Boland wore an Irish jersey during her sophomore season when she played in a high school all-star game at Alumni Field, and she knew there was no other future choice.”I got chills when I put on that jersey,” Boland said. “It just represented something that I knew I wanted to be a part of. It is a program of excellence.”To Boland, Notre Dame was the perfect school.”It has the best of both worlds, great academics and an unbelievable soccer program,” Boland said.She got her start in soccer at the age of seven and had the opportunity to play for the U-19 women’s national team. The program gave Boland the experience to play against international teams and allowed her to visit other countries such as Holland and Germany. Boland credits the experience with making her both a well-rounded person and player. “It was an incredible opportunity that I got to play,” Boland said. “I would not have had the opportunity to see the world.” After returning from her soccer journey around the world, Boland quickly joined the Irish the summer prior to her freshman year. Irish head coach Randy Waldrum said her talent was evident right away.”We thought as a freshman that she was the best player we had that season,” Waldrum said. “We were ranked No. 2 at that time and she scored the first goal of the season for us.”After her early success, she quickly encountered trouble as she tore her LCL with only 30 seconds remaining in her first game in an Irish jersey. The knee injury caused Boland to miss three-fourths of the season. She returned in October only to suffer a season-ending ankle injury. While most would dwell on their misfortunes, Boland viewed the injury as a learning experience. “It was incredibly frustrating to suffer from that downfall, but it teaches you that you cannot give up, and it puts things into perspective,” Boland said. “You still are apart of a great program and that there are other things you can bring to the team.”This year Boland was voted a tri-captain for her presence on and off the field. Waldrum praised Boland for her dedication and team-oriented attitude. “She was chosen as captain because she has the support of the underclassman,” Waldrum said. “She is great individually, can keep everybody on the team focused and sets a great example with her work ethic,”It is her intensity in every match that helps to distinguish Boland, but it is this characteristic that has also been her Achilles’ heel.During her sophomore and junior years, Boland suffered two ankle injuries, both caused by tackles during matches.”No matter what the situation is, she throws her body to fight for any loose ball,” Waldrum said. “But at the same time we need her to stay healthy.”Despite these injuries causing her to be sidelined throughout the past three seasons, they have not inhibited her style of play and passion for the sport.”She is just nonstop, she never stops chasing or putting pressure on the opposition,” Waldrum said. “You can’t fall asleep as a defender or else she will punish you for it.”Entering her final season as an Irish player, Boland has already given her team an impression that will be hard to forget – her love for soccer.”My love for the program and my teammates is what pushes me,” Boland said. “I may not be the most skilled player, but I will give you my whole heart.”