Freshman soccer player shows dominance in midfield

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Freshman Cali Bruce (right) totals one goal and three assists this season. Rachel Culver / Beacon Staff

By Nick Rempe

Before freshman Cali Bruce joined the women’s soccer team, she used to spend her weekends in hotels with her club soccer team, preparing for two games after a week of four practices.

Bruce played for Richmond United, which she said is one of the toughest and most time-consuming clubs in the country. Bruce said playing competitively brought the pressure of trying to reach some of the strongest Division I colleges in the country, something she said she was not completely on board with. 

“Everyone on my club team was, for the most part, going Division I [or] Division II,” Bruce said in an interview. “So it felt like I had to do it. There were Division I schools I was looking at, but I wanted to be at a place that if I knew I wasn’t playing soccer I would still be happy.”

Bruce scored her first Emerson College goal in the team’s 3-0 win against Wentworth on Sept. 10. She also recorded an assist in the Lions’ 8-0 win against Mount Holyoke College on Sept. 21, their first conference game, and has a total of 3 assists on the season thus far.  

Although Bruce brings strong talent and skill to the field, she said she had to learn a new position when she arrived at the college. She plays center-midfield, but played right- and left-back defender for her club team. The transition is going well with the help of her coaching staff, Bruce said.

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“It’s been nice with the help of [head coach] David Suvak, Kayla [Cappuzzo], Colin [Connolly], Loy [Urbina], and all of them helping me learn how to adjust to this new position,” she said. “But I don’t really care when or where I play—I just want to do what the team needs me to do and that’s all that matters to me.”

Suvak said Bruce’s experienced soccer background and ability to learn is helping her improve in her new position. 

“She comes from a really great soccer background, being involved in the club she was in,” Suvak said. “We, as a coaching staff, do things a little differently here, but Cali is showing she is a coachable kid, and a knowledgeable kid, and we’re trying to raise her game.” 

Bruce grew up in Glen Allen, Virginia, but said she always expressed a desire to attend a school in the North—and Emerson fit the criteria. 

“I’m majoring in sports communication and non-profit communications,” Bruce said. “Boston is a massive sports city, and since that’s what I want to do, it’s really nice to be in the epicenter of successful sports.”

After a visit with Suvak and spending time with some players, Bruce knew that Emerson was the right school for her. 

“I spent a day with [goalie] Megan [Rose], [forward] Grace [Cosgrove], went around Boston, went to a class, came and watched practice, and got to experience what the team culture really was, and that was something that I thought was really special,” she said. 

Bruce said she made the right choice in choosing Emerson.

“The team has been amazing,” she said. “I feel like we’ve all really clicked even though it has only been a month. I’ve been really enjoying the coaching staff and working with Suvak more this year, and for academics, I love the small classes and the teachers and being able to really connect with my classmates.”

Suvak said he is pleased with the skillset Bruce brings to the team. 

“We knew when we recruited her that she was going to be a very talented player,” Suvak said. “She hasn’t disappointed.”

Junior defender and captain Amanda Benavente said Bruce improves on the field every day. 

“As a player, she came in strong and showed her mark right from the beginning,” Benavente said. “She also kept improving as each day went, getting more confident with the team and around us, and has such a large skill set she brings to the table.”

The team holds a 6-1 record through its first 7 games and 1-0 in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference play. 

With conference games underway, Bruce said the team is in a strong position to succeed.

“The foundation that has been set by Suvak, and the rest of the coaches and captains, should make us successful going forward,” Bruce said. “I’m not worried about my goals, assists, and other stats—I just want to make this team the best they can be.”