Shirley’s FC defender Lillian Podziewski earned a spot on the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy first-ever intercollegiate women’s soccer team roster beginning this fall season.
The CNMI women’s national team player and Marianas High School graduate said her seeing action in the Mariners’ first-ever soccer team is a culmination of her hard work on and off the pitch.
“If I were honest, I’ve had more downs than ups throughout my soccer journey. In my first few years of playing soccer I was always on the bench, even when I was one of the only players who consistently went to training. I struggled and almost decided to quit soccer altogether until a friend noticed my ‘fighting spirit’ on the field and said I should try out for the national team. I didn’t think I would make it, but I took the chance and tried out for the team, and I worked hard to improve. Since then, I met new coaches and teammates who encouraged me and made me a better person and player,” said Podziewski who left for New York this summer following her acceptance to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.
Podziewski, who graduated No. 4 in the Top 10 of her MHS class in May 28, 2021, said she wants to serve as an inspiration to the islands’ youth that perseverance eventually pays off.
“I want to let the younger players know that if you put tothe hard work and take the opportunities presented to you, the right people will notice and help you develop into a better person and player. I want to say thank you to my family, my friends, my teammates, my coaches, and the NMIFA staff for their continued support and Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan for nominating me for the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.”
Northern Mariana Islands Football Association technical director Michiteru Mita said Podziewski’s latest achievement is not only a testament to her amazing talent, but is also a salute to the soccer program that nurtured her talents and abilities.
“I would like to congratulate on not only these players but also coaches, clubs, family. I also appreciate Chelsea FC Hong Kong coaches led by Coach Luem Khen Koo for their continue guidance since our women’s program started. I hope they continue to work hard and continue to play football in college and prove CNMI players can play in the college level and continue to inspire our young players,” he said.
Located in Kings Point, New York, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Mariners hired Andy Commins as the first-ever head coach of the women’s soccer program. Commins will oversee the new program as a club team over the next two years, recruiting top student-athletes from around the country to the Academy before the Mariners join the NCAA and Skyline Conference in the fall.