DiGenova has been the ‘heartbeat’ of Temple women’s soccer

After five seasons with the team, graduate student Marissa DiGenova has left an everlasting imprint on Temple University’s women’s soccer program.

Marissa DiGenova, graduate student defender, runs with the ball during an Owls' game against Rider University at Temple Sports Complex on Sept. 4. | ALLIE IPPOLITO / THE TEMPLE NEWS

When graduate student defender Marissa DiGenova took the field on Oct. 28 against the University of South Florida, she did not want to be reminded she was playing her final collegiate game for Temple University women’s soccer.

“I remember all my teammates were asking me how I felt, and I didn’t want to think about it,” DiGenova said. “The day of the game, I thought to myself how this was my last time in the Temple locker room and the last time putting on my cherry kit, and it was just really emotional.”

A team captain for the past two seasons, DiGenova was one of the Owls’ best players on the field and played a large role in helping younger players adjust to competing at the collegiate level.

During the 2021 season, DiGenova started in all 16 games and clocked 1,465 minutes played, leading the team for the fourth straight season. 

As the Owls’ longest tenured player, DiGenova was one of only two players on the team this season who were part of the 2018 squad that qualified for the American Athletic Conference Tournament.

“I think that the most enduring part of [DiGenova’s] legacy is going to be the leadership and the modeling that she did for younger players,” said head coach Nick Bochette. “Every single day she would be out there showing the younger players the commitment and sacrifice that it takes to be excellent at the college level.”

One of the teammates DiGenova spent the most time with on the field was junior forward Hailey Gutowski, who adjusted to the collegiate level through DiGenova’s leadership, she said.

“[DiGenova] is one of the best players that I have ever been on the field with,” Gutowksi added. “She raises the intensity every time that she is on the field and she is someone that you want on your side.”

As a defender, DiGenova did not always get the opportunity to fill up the stat sheet like offensive players, but played a key role in setting up her teammates with opportunities down the field, Bochette said.

“What [DiGenova] brought to the field was a consistency, an energy and a reliability that has been unmatched by anyone else on the team,” Bochette added. “She was always able to get us to keep the ball moving while also being one of the anchors of our defense.”

DiGenova joined the Owls in 2017, when the team was coming off of one of their worst seasons in program history after going 3-16. She played a fundamental role in turning the program around by strengthening the team’s defensive line and leading the Owls back to the conference tournament just two years later.

During her freshman year, DiGenova only started in two matches for the Owls, but knew Temple was a place where she would eventually become a better player, she said.

“I already had other Division I offers, but I didn’t accept any of them yet because my eyes were always on Temple,” DiGenova said. “I fell in love with it, and I knew that I wanted to come play here.”

In her sophomore year, DiGenova started in all 19 games and became a key member of an Owls’ backline that produced four shutouts throughout the season.

DiGenova leaves the program after playing in 51 total games and only missing one game in the last four seasons.

Next season, the Owls will struggle to fill the void DiGenova is leaving in the roster, Gutowski said.

“I am going to miss all of my teammates most of all,” DiGenova said. “When I first got here, one of my goals was to leave this program better than I found it, and I hope I have.”

DiGenova plans to continue her soccer career by playing professionally overseas in Europe, she said.

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