She’s gone from first to the worst and is now working her way back to the top.
Yes, soccer has become quite a roller-coaster ride for Brittany Palmer. A Northeast native and lifelong competitor on the pitch, Palmer graduated from Archbishop Ryan High School three years ago — her team claimed consecutive Catholic League titles — and moved on to a winless collegiate program.
Palmer soon headed for another college. And now she’s rising in the soccer ranks once again.
Currently a junior midfielder and forward at Penn State Abington, Palmer has helped the Nittany Lions go 7-1 thus far this season.
“She’s phenomenal. I think she’s been a big part of our success,” said Abington head coach David Castellanos. “Her energy, her personality, all that comes out and really gives us a spark that we need on our team.
“This is the best start we’ve had in the three years I’ve been here,” he continued. “We’re ecstatic and extremely happy with the direction that we’re going. We have a special group and we need to continue to work hard throughout the rest of the season.”
Penn State Abington has won its last three games, defeating SUNY (State University of New York) Cobleskill, 4-3, on Sept. 24, then SUNY-IT, 2-1, the following afternoon. The Nittany Lions traveled to Chambersburg, Pa., on Saturday and dominated Wilson College, 6-2.
“I think it’s going very well. I didn’t think it was going to be as great as it is,” admitted Palmer. “My last school was horrible. I was hoping for more of a jump in competition with this team. I came here and we had great chemistry off the bat. We were all on the same page. We all wanted to win.”
Palmer is enjoying life in the winner’s circle once again after struggling through consecutive winless seasons with Manor College during the past two years. In June, she earned an associate’s degree in allied health from the junior college and decided to enroll at Penn State Abington to finish her schooling.
“I loved Manor, and I’m really happy at Abington too,” said Palmer. “Both schools are very personal. Manor had small classes, like Abington.”
FOES TURNED FRIENDS
Although she is teaming up with a new squad this season, Palmer is working alongside some familiar faces from her days with Archbishop Ryan and the Philadelphia Catholic League.
Junior defender Lauren Corcoran and forward Kaitlin Kozole played for St. Hubert High School; sophomore midfielder Alie Lazar is a graduate of Cardinal Dougherty.
“I recognized a few of them from the Catholic League,” said Palmer. “It was pretty cool to get to know them and share the competitiveness that we all acquired from the Catholic League.
“I’ve been in great shape ever since high school. That really prepared me,” she added. “I had a great coach. After having my coach in high school (Ryan Haney), I was prepared for anything.”
Haney continues to coach the Ryan Ragdolls, and Palmer — who commutes to Penn State Abington from her Parkwood home — still attends as many Archbishop Ryan soccer games as possible.
During her reign with the Ragdolls, Palmer was a four-year varsity starter and helped her squad claim consecutive Catholic League championships in 2007 and ’08. She was an All-Catholic selection during her junior and senior seasons.
After high school, Palmer was in for a rude awakening on the soccer field. She battled through two winless seasons at Manor College.
“After high school, my main focus wasn’t soccer. I chose Manor because it was what I wanted school-wise and it was close to home,” Palmer explained. “They have great academics.
“Going from winning two championships in high school to never winning one game was tough,” she added, “but I loved the game. If I lose, I lose, but I’m going out there one-hundred percent.”
CHANGES IN THE CLASSROOM
Palmer is studying for a degree in criminal justice, quite a switch from her original emphasis on science. She plans to join the Philadelphia Police Department.
“I’ll definitely want to go right into the police force after graduation,” she explained. “If becoming a cop doesn’t work out, maybe I’ll become a parole officer or work in the jail system.
“I love Philadelphia, so I want to be working in the city and making it a better place,” she added. “That’s what I want for my future.” ••
Editor Melissa Yerkov can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org