BUCKHANNON -- West Virginia Wesleyan's women's soccer team has produced season after season of air tight, lock down defensive units under head coach Patrick Holguin.
This year is no different, and the team is continuing this tradition, posting 13 shutouts in the team's 20 matches.
Sophomore defender Marissa Zetty is a key component to this unit. The athletic and skilled native of Grindstone, Pennsylvania has started every game during her two years at Wesleyan. Despite being only a sophomore, she is a younger player that brings a veteran presence to the team.
"Zetty has been a tremendous impact to our program since arriving last year," Holguin said. "She has started every game and has played a number of key roles for us. She did receive some regional recognition last year...she is one of the best players in the region and a key to our success."
Long before her time at Wesleyan, she began her soccer career at the age of four. From the very beginning, she was a defensive specialist, and worked on developing those skills as she grew up through the ranks in the Pittsburgh area. While she also played basketball and volleyball as a youngster, she was strictly soccer by the time she was in the sixth grade.
At Belle Vernon High School, Zetty was an All-Section and an All-WPIAL player on some BVHS playoff teams. But it was her play with her club that caught the attention of the Wesleyan staff.
"Coach Pat (Holguin) and Coach Kevin (Holguin) came and saw me at one of the Showcase Tournaments," Zetty said. "They recruited me from there, and Wesleyan was always one of the teams on my short list."
Eventually Wesleyan won out. Zetty cited several factors in her final decision.
"Wesleyan had won the conference the year before, and they had one of the top defenses in the country," Zettysaid. "Plus the success of the program was a big pull...I was looking at some other schools, but I knew that if I came here, I was definitely going to be on a winner, and get to play for conference championships."
With several key players graduating from the famed 2015 team, Zetty came to preseason camp in 2016 with several other rookies looking to snag one of the open spots. It was a battle for survival for many, but a battle in which Zetty came out alive on the other side.
"I was nervous, and the it was really draining both physically and mentally," Zetty said "I think my experience with some of the higher level players in club ball had prepared me for college play, but the fitness work was still very, very tough. I remember when we had our first scrimmage and I was able to get some good minutes and played well...that was the first time that I realized I might win a starting job."
Zetty not only won the job, but was a workhorse in both minutes played and in key defensive plays as the young Bobcats surprised many with a solid 12-3-3 campaign in 2016. Furthermore, Zetty helped lead a defensive unit that allowed only seven goals over the 18 games. She was names to the MEC All-Freshman Team.
This season, she has been a major part of the team's success all over the field. She has helped lead the LBC to a 17-2-1 record, the MEC Championship, and another berth in the NCAA Tournament. She has been more active in the midfield area and on the attack, scoring two goals and three assists, in addition to being a key component to the multitude of shutouts. Zetty was one of only two sophomores to make the First-Team All-MEC. She made the team as a midfielder.
Her fitness and athleticism has been very evident throughout the season. This has been especially true with the many big plays she has made in the second half of several contests.
Zetty is majoring in Nursing and plans to be a Nurse Anesthetist. She is getting a minor in Spanish.
"Pursuing the Nursing Degree is going to open up more grad school options for me than simply getting a Biology Degree," Zetty said. "The Spanish was more of personal choice for me. I was in Catholic School from the Kindergarten through the ninth grade and I had Spanish every year. I feel that being able to speak fluid Spanish is going to help me as a Nurse Anesthetist and throughout my life professionally."
Zetty is hopeful that her post-college life can take her back to the Western Pennsylvania area. Besides working in the medical field, she is also hopeful that she can get into coaching, and give back to her sport in that manner.
Zetty and her Lady Bobcat teammates have business to tend to in the meantime. They are entering the NCAA Tournament as the number three seed in the Atlantic Region. They open play Friday afternoon against six-seed Gannon.
"We are hoping to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament again," Zetty said. "I really enjoy the players and coaches we have with this team, and I think there is potential here to accomplish some big things."
( Courtesy Photo By Brian Bergstrom )