For high school athletes aspiring to play their sport at the collegiate level, most can only dream of being recruited out of a sea of talented competitors. That dream became a reality for Melanie Hingher ‘20 when Fairfield recruited her for not only one, but two Division I sports.
If you’re lucky enough to get recruited, then your next big decision is which college to play for, if you’re good enough to get multiple offers. However, Hingher had a different decision to make — basketball or soccer? Although it was a toss up, ultimately soccer won. “I played soccer all my life, so I couldn’t really see myself not playing it anymore,” Hingher said.
The former New York State Tournament MVP helped lead her team to new heights at Massapequa High School, where the team snagged three consecutive state titles. Coming off of this impressive track record, the transition from high school sports to college sports was “not too crazy,” Hingher said. “It’s a lot faster, and the girls are stronger and faster,” she added. Even so, Hingher seems to be adjusting accordingly as she has started every game this season.
When it came to deciding on a college, Hingher’s mother, Sue urged her to look at Siena College, where Sue once played for the soccer team. “I looked there and it was nice, but it wasn’t my fit and I didn’t want to go there if my mom went there and my sister went there,” said Hingher. Wanting to pave her own path, Hingher chose Fairfield. “I was looking at schools in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and this campus is just like no other, so that helped my decision a lot,” she explained.
Despite their constant hard work, the Fairfield women’s soccer team has somewhat struggled to start out the season. However, the 6-foot-1-inch defender is definitely no stranger to success, so she knows that the team will be able to turn it around. “We play really well and hard in practice against each other, and we like to challenge ourselves, so I think that if we keep working at our hardest eventually it will turn around and it’ll start going our way,” Hingher said.
The Stags have only had four home games thus far, which could have an impact on their level of play. “[At Fairfield] we have fans that support us and that gives us momentum, so being on the road more has been different because every field’s different — like playing from grass to turf is kind of hard, but we’re getting used to it,” Hingher said.
Back in high school, Hingher led her team to the state tournament where she scored two goals in 75 seconds during the Class AA Southeast Regional in 2016, bringing the final score to 3-0 against West Islip.
Additionally, Hingher recently reached a milestone in her collegiate career when she scored her first goal in a game against Quinnipiac University, where the Stags fell short to the Bobcats, 2-1 on Sept. 28.
Although the team lost, Hingher asserted that “it was a good feeling.” She added, “It made the loss less bad because [the goal] was an exciting thing, but obviously it stinks that we lost, but it was a good feeling. Hopefully more to come.”
Given Hingher’s track record, scoring more goals won’t be a question of if, but when and just how many.