New Kid on The Bluff: Katie O’Connor

Photo courtesy of the Athletic Department.

By Andrew Holman | The Duquesne Duke

Photo courtesy of the Athletic Department.
Photo courtesy of the Athletic Department.

In college sports, leadership typically comes from the upperclassmen and the captains, but Katie O’Connor, a freshman forward for the Duquesne women’s soccer team, has proven that leadership can come from even the youngest athletes.

O’Connor has become somewhat of a freshman phenom as she leads the Dukes in goals scored (four) as well as ranking second in assists (two) this season. And to top that all off, she was already named Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week Sept. 8.

“She’s the type of kid that you build a program around. And thank God we’ve got her right now because she is carrying the load for us,” said Head Coach Al Alvine.

These are some high words of praise from the coach of the 5’9” freshman coming out of East Setauket, New York where O’Connor played high school soccer at Ward-Melville High School and club soccer for Farmingdale United.

Alvine isn’t the only one who has noticed her abilities. Duquesne women’s soccer team captain and senior midfielder Danya Fenech also called attention to O’Connor’s leadership and abilities.

“She’s a workhorse. She never gives up,” Fenech said. “She is always looking to score that big goal for us and that’s huge coming from a freshman. We definitely see her as a leader. She is someone we can rely on to score those big goals and her being a freshman just means that she’s going to continue to grow.”

But O’Connor gives all the credit to her teammates for their contributions to her early success.

“I feel like our team moves the ball well and we’ve been using a lot of our players to get the ball forward and giving me opportunities to finish the goal,” O’Connor said.

Success is nothing new to O’Connor. In 2014, she was named a high school All-American by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. O’Connor was twice named to the NSCAA regional team, and was a member of the All-Conference and NY All-State teams three times each. She was also recognized as the Suffolk County Player of the year.

As team captain of Farmingdale United, O’Connor led her team to back-to-back State Cup Championships. She also helped earn her squad a No. 1 ranking in the nation in 2013 as well as another Top-10 finish in 2014.

With all these accolades recruiting O’Connor seems like an obvious choice, and that’s why Alvine made the trek to East Setauket in order to bring an incredible offensive talent like O’Connor into his program.

“Katie has been great. She has done what we expected her to do. She is scoring goals, she is giving our team energy, she is creating goals and I couldn’t be happier for what she has brought to our team,” said Alvine. “[She has] pace, power, and a never say die attitude.”