Updated: Sep 28
Anchor Staff Writer
Through five games, the Rhode Island College women’s soccer team has scored a total of three goals, held an opponent at bay and have made some beautifully orchestrated defensive plays. The entire team has been doing an impressive job thus far, but a specific player’s efforts caught my attention, and when I was given the opportunity to speak to her, I understood why.
Kelly Graziano is a Johnston, Rhode Island native who attended and graduated from Moses Brown High School in 2020. Graziano is currently a freshman at RIC, and majors in business. She played soccer for New England’s Premier Soccer Club (NEFC) before starting to attend RIC. In 2016, while still playing with NEFC, Graziano and her team placed second at Nationals.
Graziano, a goalkeeper, has 18 saves so far this season, having only allowed five goals and a save percentage of 0.783%. She has played 200 minutes as of game seven this season, meaning she’s faced an attempted shot about every 8.7 minutes.
Our conversation was brief, but Graziano spoke very well and in-depth. The biggest take-away from this conversation with her was that Graziano values the relationship she has with her teammates. In fact, one particular goal Graziano has for the season is building a strong connection with her teammates.
Graziano also spoke of her hopes to get back into the swing of things, as she took two gap years off from the sport immediately after high school. She confided that her hardest feat is the mental aspect of her position.
Graziano has been familiar with the goalie spot for the last decade, first becoming a goalkeeper at the age of ten. Looking at the bigger picture, she acknowledges soccer has been a positive in her life.
“It’s my exercise and social life, it’s where I’ve met some of my best friends… and it’s something that I can see being a part of my whole life through not only playing but coaching and refereeing,” she said.
Graziano is proud of the Anchorwomen’s work ethic this season, noting that the teams’ two previous seasons were challenging – though not enough to faze them.
“Every training session we have, everyone is working their hardest,” she said. “I feel what motivates me the most is that I am a part of a team that expects me to give 110% every game and practice.”
It isn’t just her team that motivates her. Graziano said she’s further motivated by her family, who have always been supportive. Graziano hopes to make her parents especially proud because of all they’ve done to help her be the elite player she is today.
Graziano’s story gives insight on both the importance of team connection and what it takes to be a dominant athlete.