WPIAL Alum Q&A – Maia Russo
Monday, October 30, 2017 | 4:38 PM
With the boys and girls WPIAL soccer championships to be decided later this week on the TribLive High School Sports Network, this edition of the WPIAL Alum Q&A focuses on the pitch. Maia Russo, a former standout for Fox Chapel and current member of Mercyhurst’s team, is under the spotlight this week.
Russo became a key component of the Foxes as a sophomore in 2014, when the team compiled an 11-0-1 mark in section play. After qualifying for the playoffs, the Foxes defeated Mount Lebanon in the first round, but fell to Upper St. Clair in the quarterfinals, finishing with a record of 17-2-1.
The following season, the Foxes produced a mark of 15-3-2, defeating Pine-Richland in the postseason before falling to Seneca Valley. Additionally, Russo was named an All-Section performer for her junior campaign.
In her senior season, Russo helped guide the Foxes to a perfect section record of 14-0-0. Fox Chapel subsequently defeated Penn-Trafford and Canon-McMillan in the postseason, but dropped a 1-0 affair to Upper St. Clair in the semifinals. The Foxes played for a spot in the state postseason, but fell 1-0 to Seneca Valley in a consolation match.
Following the conclusion of her high-school career, Russo joined the soccer team at Mercyhurst University. As a true freshman in 2016, she played in all 18 games for the Lakers, starting 17. She contributed two goals and one assist, and her five points ranked sixth on the team. She also compiled 31 shot attempts, second among Lakers. Mercyhurst, which competes in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC), finished with a record of 8-8-2.
This season, Russo played in 15 games, including 11 starts. In that action, she netted two goals and two assists. Mercyhurst just completed its slate, finishing with a 6-1 triumph on Saturday. The Lakers final record for the campaign was 5-9-4.
Maia dedicated time to answer questions about her biggest area of improvement, her superstitions for every match, and the best advice she has received.
Q: What is your greatest strength as a player?
A: I would have to say that my greatest strength as a player would be my speed. Throughout my soccer career, I have always been a fast player, and it has helped with being able to get on the end of balls and beating defenders to get a cross.
Q: What is the biggest adjustment from high-school to college soccer?
A: The biggest adjustment from high-school to college soccer would have to be the speed of play on the ground. I was used to playing fast before I came to college, but not on the ground – it was more playing balls in the air and running to get on the end of them. Now, it is more passing on the ground, feet to feet.
Q: How have you improved from your freshman year to this season?
A: I believe I have improved in my speed of play, seeing the whole field, and knowing where to play the ball.
Q: Did you set any individual or team goals for the campaign?
A: I set an individual goal this year to work as hard as I can every time I step on the field. As a team, I was really pushing to make playoffs this year and for everyone to want to work for each other.
Q: Which road venue have you enjoyed the most thus far in college?
A: My favorite road venue so far has been Bloomsburg University.
Q: What led to your decision to attend Mercyhurst University?
A: The size of the school helped influence my decision to attend Mercyhurst, because it is a smaller school, and the hospitality program they have at the school helped influence my decision, as well.
Q: What is your major, and ideal future profession?
A: My major is hospitality management. My ideal future profession is to be an event planner at a ski resort.
Q: Fox Chapel enjoyed great soccer success during your time there. What was your fondest memory?
A: My fondest memory from high-school soccer is on the last day of preseason, we would have a 5 vs. 5 tournament and dress up in different themes and play in our costumes. It was always a great team bonding activity to do at the beginning of the season.
Q: Which team did you consider the Foxes biggest rival for soccer?
A: I considered Plum to be our biggest rival when I was playing.
Q: Did you play any other sports, either in high-school or at a younger age?
A: I only played soccer in high school, but when I was younger I played basketball, and in middle school I also played volleyball and ran track and field.
Q: Do you have any superstitions or rituals before, during or after a game?
A: When I am getting ready for a game, I always get ready in the same order every time. That is about it; nothing major but there are other little things I always do before, such as what I eat and where I hang up my necklace.
Q: Who is your favorite pro athlete?
A: Phil Kessel on the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Q: What is the last movie you saw?
A: The last movie was The Campaign on the bus on our way back from a soccer game.
Q: Have you noticed much of a difference in the weather between Pittsburgh and Erie?
A: There is definitely a change of weather from Pittsburgh to Erie, although they are only two hours apart. The winter in Erie is worse in the sense of how windy it is here, and during the fall, it rains more.
Q: What is the best advice you have ever received?
A: The best advice I have ever received is that if your plan doesn’t work at first, then change your plan, but never change your goal.