On Tuesday, October 24 at Edith Robb Dixon Field, the spotlight was not only on soccer but also on mental health awareness, as Cabrini’s women’s team hosted the Lady Lions of Penn State Abington.
The game unfolded with intense action in both halves, culminating in a 1-0 victory for Cabrini as they wrapped up the regular season.
This game was played in honor and support of Morgan’s Message, an organization that strives to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health within the student athlete community. It aims to expand the dialogue on mental health by normalizing conversations, empowering those who suffer in silence, and supporting those who feel alone.
“This game stood for a lot. It was about raising awareness for mental health, specifically student athlete mental health. In a time where student athletes at the high school and collegiate level are facing enormous pressure and stress, it’s paramount to send the message that they are not alone and there is help available,” said Caroline Hassall, junior criminology and sociology major.
Hassall is an ambassador for Morgan’s Message and goalkeeper for the Cavaliers. “Our job as student ambassadors is to hold mental health awareness games, have meetings with student athletes, and ultimately just spread the message that no one is alone,” Hassall said.
Not only did the Cavaliers raise awareness for mental health, they also showed that the team remains unstoppable. Cabrini’s best opportunity to score came in the 42nd minute when senior back Rebekah Cunningham expertly set up junior back Grace Langefeld, who advanced toward the corner. Langefeld made a skillful pass into the box, and senior forward Maggie McCay made a valiant effort to connect with the cross. However, her shot ricocheted off the nearest defender before being collected by the Penn State Abington freshman goalkeeper Abby Brunnell.
The Lady Lions posed a threat late in the first half, with their leading goal scorer, junior Madison McDowell, taking three shots. Her third attempt was a corner kick that grazed the top of the crossbar before sailing over the goal frame. During the first period, seven different Cavaliers attempted shots, but none managed to find the back of the net. Freshman goalkeeper, Kiara Soto, in her first career start, successfully kept the Lions from scoring.
Penn State Abington came out of the break with a burst of energy, launching four shots within the first 11 minutes of the second half. Junior Hailey Bond, took over as the second-half goalkeeper for Cabrini, managed to save two of these attempts, while the other two missed high.
“It meant a lot to me that I was able to play in the game for Morgan’s Message. It meant that I was helping to make a difference in our community and helping spread awareness. I am lucky enough to know that I have all the support from friends, teammates, and family from on the field and off. Everyone should have that, and we all need to do our part to keep raising awareness,” Bond said.
The decisive moment arrived in the 54th minute when Cabrini secured the game’s only goal. In a well-executed sequence, Gia Rebilas, sophomore midfielder, passed the ball to freshman forward Erin Ewing, who then sent it to sophomore forward Alfa Orihuela, who ran in open space. The Lions’ defense was unable to catch up with Orihuela, and her right-footed strike found the back of the net on the right side of the goal making this her first career goal.
“I think I was feeling a bit of everything in that moment, shock, disbelief, and happiness. The best thing about the goal was not the goal itself, but what followed. Being able to celebrate it with my teammates and most of all my best friend. It’s a feeling I will always cherish,” Orihuela said.
As the match drew to a close, the Cavaliers generated four more shots, but the final score remained 1-0 in favor of Cabrini, marking the end of the regular season.
“The game played out in our favor, but it also showed that we need to keep working hard, if not harder, especially since the AEC playoffs are starting,” Bond said.
This game not only celebrated athletic skill, but also aimed to raise awareness for mental health among student-athletes and support Morgan’s Message. Cabrini coaches are dedicated to helping student athletes in their journey with mental health. No one is alone, and it is important to remember that asking for help is a sign of strength.
“You are a human first, student second, and athlete last. Your mental health is more important than your classroom and performance on the field. Together we can help eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health and spread the message that you are not alone, and help is out there,” said Amanda Elwell, senior back.
Elwell is another student ambassador for Morgan’s Message working to help student athletes feel heard.
“I want others to know it’s okay to not be okay. It’s important to me that my teammates and other student athletes on campus feel supported. Being a student athlete isn’t easy and presents a lot of challenges and personal obstacles. Having resources, outlets, and knowing they are supported is critical,” she said.
With this victory under their belt, the Cavaliers hosted the Atlantic East Conference quarterfinal match that took place on Saturday, October 28, against the Griffins of Gwynedd Mercy which ended in a 0-0 draw. Cabrini women’s soccer finished their final season with a record of 6-7-3.