Emma DeMaise’s path to captain of the Rowan Women’s Soccer team

Emma DeMaise looks to pass the ball. DeMaise is the team's captain this season. Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023. - Photo via Lee Kotzen

Rowan Women’s Soccer team captain Emma DeMaise has been a crucial part of the Profs 8-0-1 record to start the year. The team has had a great record since she has been on the team, with a record of 37-5-6, including playoffs.

Her career started off less than ideal. Her first season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Instead of letting this keep her spirits down, DeMaise viewed the year off as a way to get into the right mindset.

“I kind of have to thank the COVID year because I would not be where I am today without it,” DeMaise said. “I really struggled to start liking and enjoying soccer. I think having time off and not having the pressure of games really helped me fall in love with the game again.”

Since she missed her first year, head coach Scott Leacott had to get her up to speed and make the best of a bad situation.

“She is what we call one of the COVID kids,” Leacott said. “She got to understand a lot that year. She learned a lot without even playing. We did a lot of video work that first year.”

Thanks to all of that video work, DeMaise instantly made an impact whenever she got the chance to.

“She has been a starter since she stepped on campus,” Leacott said. “She stepped up and became very dedicated during that first year of playing. Emma started off in a position that is very tough for someone who is just starting off in college soccer, as a centerback. We had a lot of good leaders that year. Then the next year, she stepped up and was a leader that year.”

DeMaise is the only team captain on the team this year, a role that she appreciates.

“It really was an honor to be given the title of captain for this team,” DeMaise said. “This group works so hard. It was definitely difficult my sophomore year stepping up after everyone graduated. It was my first year playing. I feel like I really stepped up.”

During her sophomore year, she was starting on the backline with a lot of upperclassmen. In particular, she learned a lot from Senior Arianna Durling.

“She was a great mentor,” DeMaise said. “I loved playing in the back with her so much. It was a big adjustment for me at first. They were all experienced players in the back. They all welcomed me with open arms.”

Not only did Durling help DeMaise then, but she still takes inspiration from her now.

“I think I teach a lot of the newer players stuff she taught me,” DeMaise said. “I definitely get a lot of my ideas from her. I try to bring everyone together and get everyone to come together just like she did for us.”

While DeMaise is a vocal leader, she also tries to lead by example. Every year, she’s gotten significantly better, and Calista Burke, the team’s goalie, has probably had the best view of her improvements.

“Playing with her, I have seen how she has improved over the years,” Burke said. “Having last year been our first year playing together in the back, I feel like we know what looks we are giving each other. We can predict each other’s next move.”

Her experience is also paying dividends for the team, as she has been in almost every situation over her three-year college playing career, which has helped the younger players stay calm.

“She very rarely loses a tackle,” Leacott said. “She is so calm and cool under pressure, sometimes even too calm and cool for us. Just that example of never panicking, that is a big thing for younger players. Even when things are not going our way, she will tell everyone to stay calm and that things will turn around.”

With Emma being a senior, she has a decision to make. She still has extra eligibility due to the COVID year in 2020.

“I do not plan on taking my extra year of eligibility,” DeMaise said. “I already feel old right now. I feel like my time has been good here. I am happy where I am.”

With this being DeMaise’s last season, she only has one last goal to accomplish. She wants to make up for the team coming up short in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III tournament last season.

“NCAA’s baby. We are going for the whole thing this year,” DeMaise said.

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