Men’s Soccer: Cicciarelli provides skill, humor for No. 2 Irish
Kit Loughran | Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Everyone needs a good laugh, and every group has that one person who never fails to make them chuckle. In that respect, the Irish are no different than everybody else.
For Notre Dame, junior forward Vince Cicciarelli is the character of the team.
When you think about a Division I soccer team that is ranked No. 2 in the nation and undefeated on the season, there doesn’t seem like there would be much room, if any, for a good laugh.
But that is quite the opposite of what the Irish team is actually like. That’s where Cicciarelli comes into play. Outsiders might overlook his role as the team jokester, but his coaches and teammates definitely do not undervalue the lightheartedness he brings to the table.
“Vince has a great sense of humor,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “He adds a nice lightness at times to the team that the team needs.”
His fellow teammates also appreciate the humor Cicciarelli contributes to the team dynamic. Senior captain and goalkeeper Patrick Wall said Cicciarelli’s character really comes into play when a member of the team takes something like practice or a game too critically.
“If someone takes things too seriously, Vince always cracks a joke and makes him laugh,” Wall said.
Cicciarelli said he recognizes he has a significant role in boosting team morale on and off the field.
“A lot of guys are really uptight and serious,” Cicciarelli said. “I think me being more of a jokester helps the team relax and see the bigger picture and see that there’s more to it than one play or one game.”
Even right before game time, Cicciarelli said he maintains a certain lightness in his attitude and pre-game rituals, which include a fresh haircut before home games by sophomore goalkeeper Brian Talcott.
“I’m really loose and walk around to talk to everyone on the team,” Cicciarelli said. “I’m very laid back and talkative compared to most guys on the team, but I have a certain seriousness to my attitude once the game clock starts.”
That seriousness Cicciarelli takes when the game starts has done nothing but enhance his performance this season. Cicciarelli scored his first career goal in Notre Dame’s 2-0 victory over Indiana on Wednesday.
“It was pretty awesome to get my first career goal,” he said. “It was awesome to help my teammates win a game.”
Cicciarelli said it is great to be able to contribute a goal like his against Indiana because he was out last season – when the Irish won the Big East tournament and earned the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament – due to an ACL injury. He also redshirted his freshman season.
“Last year was probably the most difficult season, especially because I had a such a great chance to contribute to such a great team,” Cicciarelli said. “Getting to play this season after coming off an injury and gaining confidence to be back playing is phenomenal because we are doing so well.”
Clark agrees it is great to have Cicciarelli and his athletic ability back on the field and to see him healthy again.
“He is a really strong and natural athlete in every way – fast, big and strong – and I’m glad he could come back this season,” Clark said. “He knew this was the year he could establish himself, and he’s doing a really good job at that.”
Being back on the field, Cicciarelli said, gets him excited for the potential the team has this season.
“We have come out and proven we are a really big deal,” Cicciarelli said. “Seeing the team develop and the hard work pay off this season is just awesome.”
Cicciarelli will give the Irish a pre-game locker room laugh before he and Notre Dame head into a huge ACC contest against No. 8 Maryland tonight at 7 p.m. at Alumni Stadium.
Contact Kit Loughran at [email protected]