Every successful athletic team needs some leadership. The Mashpee High School girls’ soccer and lacrosse teams will certainly enjoy some from senior Anna O’Neill.
A tough midfielder who has battled through adversity, O’Neill has grown into the type of player that her team can depend on to give an honest effort every time out. Since making a splash as a freshman for the girls’ soccer team, O’Neill has had to fight back from a bad ankle injury that slowed her down. Now, as a senior, she’s ready to help lead the team back to the postseason.
The daughter of Kathy and Dan O’Neill has three siblings. Her sister Bridget is 16 and twin siblings Robert and Catie are each 14.
Anna said that her Falmouth Road Race bibs are her most-prized possessions. In school, history is her favorite subject. “Designated Survivor” is her favorite TV show, “Miracle” is her favorite movie and The Beatles are her favorite musical act.
Anna said that Dave Portnoy, Tom Brady and David Dobrik are her favorite follows on social media. Her favorite meal is a Reuben with a Shirley Temple.
Scholastically she’s been a high honor roll student throughout high school. She’s won Academic Achievement and Merit awards in French, Geometry, AP US History and Economics. She also won the Falcon Award for soccer last year.
How did you get involved in soccer? How much do you enjoy it?
I didn’t start playing soccer until I was in 2nd grade. A friend of a friend asked my parents if I would be interested in joining a co-ed travel team that was desperate for numbers. Since then, I’ve continued to stay active in Mashpee Youth Soccer, which has carried over into my high school career. Playing soccer has become a time where I can forget about school, stress, and drama to just focus on myself and my game. I’ve met my best friends through soccer, so it truly means the world to me.
You suffered an ankle injury that sidetracked your athletic career for a while. How did you get injured, and what has the recovery process been like? Now that you’re more than a year removed from coming back to the field, do you feel like you’re back to your old self yet? Has the injury been more problematic for soccer or lacrosse?
I injured my ankle the second game of my sophomore year. We were playing Hull and we were down 1-0. I received a cross and as I shot, the opposing goalie dove on my leg. I ended up with both a broken fibula and tibia, as well as a couple of torn ligaments.
Recovering was very hard mentally for me. It was so difficult to sit on the bench the entire season. I longed to be a part of both the wins and the losses. I felt like I was always sad in and out of school. Now, I’d like to say that I am better than I was pre-injury, although it still hurts from time to time. I am more pleased with the way I play and my stats are more impressive. Although I couldn’t stand being on the bench, I learned a whole new perspective of the game. It made me smarter. The injury has been more problematic for soccer. I was, and still am, cautious of getting kicked in a certain spot or hurting it again.
Last year, the girls’ soccer team rallied late in the season to get into the state tournament, and even won a playoff game. How did it feel to make that happen, and do you feel like there has been any carryover into this season?
It was the best feeling in the world to make it as far as we did. It was my first time playing in the tournament for soccer and it brought so many emotions and memories that I will never forget. Sam Kersey will always have a special place in my heart for scoring the overtime winner against Nantucket in the first round. Although we lost in the second round, everyone was so proud of the effort and heart put into last season. And since we lost only three seniors, every returner has come into this new season with the same energy and determination that we had last year. We all want to make it further this year and I really believe that can happen.
What will it take for the 2019 season to be considered successful in your eyes? What do you have to do to to help make that happen?
Especially after last season’s run, the goal is always to qualify for the state tournament. We have the talent and depth to be that successful. No matter our record, if everyone gives every game their all, this season will be a personal favorite for me. The team this year is very close, so we all connect on and off the field. If we maintain the communication and strong relationships, a successful season is very likely.
You also play lacrosse at Mashpee High. What are your expectations for that season, and what will your role be in that?
This year I am expecting a lot of the younger girls to step up on the field and when it comes to leadership roles. We lost three-quarters of our starting defense and three of our captains. As the only returning captain this spring, I am going to look for ideas and help from all underclassmen, especially the ones who have club experience, two of those being my younger sisters, Catie and Bridget. Like I said earlier, if the dedication is there in any sport, a tournament spot could easily be reached.
If you could replay one game that you have played in, which one would it be? Why?
The one game I would replay would be a match against Cohasset back during my freshman year. A couple of weeks prior to this game, my team had lost to the powerhouse team, 5-0, on their home turf, so we were not very optimistic. Right after school that day we were told that the boys’ JV head coach had passed away the night before. In that moment, both the boys’ and girls’ teams decided that the Cohasset game was in honor of Coach Langler. My team ended up dominating the match and beat Cohasset 1-0 in front of the biggest crowd of the year. Everyone played with so much heart and emotion that day and I will never forget it.
What do you consider the highlight of your athletic career so far?
The highlight of my athletic career so far would definitely be the second round game of the state tournament last fall. Although we lost, the bus ride was awesome, the fans were rowdy, and it really was an unforgettable experience. At the time, we were the only Mashpee sport left with a season, which was pretty cool.
Who is the best teammate that you’d ever play with? What makes that person stand out?
The best teammate I’ve ever played with would be Lauren Lavigne. I played one season of both soccer and lacrosse with her. She was a senior when I was a freshman, but that fall we became very close. I use her leadership qualities as a captain now myself three years later. Sports introduced us and she is one of my best friends still to this day.
Do you have any sports-related superstitions? If so, what are they?
I actually have two sports-related superstitions. The first is a strict stretching routine before every game. I do each stretch, dynamic and static, in order. The one time I skipped “open the gates,” I strained my hip flexor during lacrosse and was sidelined for a game. The second superstition is I am always the last player in the high-five line after any game I play in.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from playing sports?
Sports have taught me that I am not always going to be the best at something. I’ve learned to face this fact over the years and use it to just make me a stronger, more adaptable player. This lesson has also translated to my mindset with my academics.
Outside of sports you have a lot of commitments at MHS. Which extracurricular activities are you involved in, and what are your responsibilities? Do you have a favorite?
The sports I play are just two of the several extracurriculars that I am a part of at school. I am the vice president of my class, the president of the National Honor Society, the vice president of Mu Alpha Theta Math Honor Society, and one of three chief editors of the MHS yearbook. I am also a member of both the National Technical Honor Society and Prom Committee.
My favorite would probably be NHS. I love the community service mindset. Also, in 6th grade, I was the president of the National Elementary Honor Society and set a goal to one day be president of the high school level organization. I am honestly super proud I accomplished a goal I set six years ago.
Who has been your inspiration?
My inspiration is definitely my 6th grade English teacher, Colleen Terrill. After that year, she followed my grade up to the middle school and has been a part of my life ever since. Mrs. Terrill was the shoulder I cried on when I lost my grandparents, broke my ankle, or was just stressed about school. She was also the person I went to first with good news or just a funny joke. She has been my rock all throughout high school and I owe the majority of my success athletically and academically to her.
Is there anyone you would like to thank?
I would like to thank my parents for coming to all of my games and being my biggest supporters throughout high school. I couldn’t have done any of it without them. I’d also like to thank my first high school coach, Cat Sullivan, for shaping me into the player I am today. And to my most recent coach, Ms. McCuish, thank you for showing me how to play with heart and leave it all out on the field. I speak on behalf of every player on the team when I say you have the kindest soul, yet the most painful track workout ideas.
What’s the most interesting place you’ve ever visited? Is there somewhere in the world that you’ve always dreamed of going? Why?
I loved visiting DC. I went on the school trip in 8th grade and then again to tour schools this past summer. I love the history aspect of the city and all of the federal buildings so much, so I want to major in political science. However, I’ve always dreamed of skiing in the French Alps. The pictures I’ve seen are so beautiful and the skiing conditions are awesome.
What’s the biggest difference between you as a senior and as a freshman? If you could go back, what advice would you give to your freshman self?
As a freshman, I was pretty shy and was always nervous of how other people thought of me. Now as a senior, I have come out of my shell a lot and I am a very outgoing person. I’m more confident in expressing my interests and have totally disregarded the word “popular” from my vocabulary. If I could go back to freshman year, I would stress to myself that a B, or even a C, on a test or quiz is not the end of the world. It will all average out in the end.
What is something about you that people would be surprised to learn?
I don’t like pizza.
If you could switch places with one person for a week, who would it be and what would you want to do?
I would switch places with Alexander Hamilton. I honestly love his story, making him my favorite historical figure. I’d switch places with him to fully grasp how the Founding Fathers started an entirely new nation from quite literally nothing. If I were Alexander Hamilton, I’d also advocate more for females and minorities of the time to maybe speed up the Equal Rights Amendment by a couple hundred years.
Describe your idea of the perfect day.
My perfect day would be spent in East Burke, Vermont, where my family skis. I would start the morning off by getting the first chair to the top with my friend Kylie Hyde. We would do a couple of runs and then grab breakfast in the lodge. The rest of the day would be spent exploring the mountain and creating our own trails. The day would conclude with dinner at my favorite restaurant up there where I’d order a Reuben.
What are your post high school plans?
I am currently in the midst of applying to several four-year colleges. I’m not sure where I will end up, but I could see myself at Boston University, the College of the Holy Cross, or Fordham University. I am also finalizing my applications for the Navy and Army ROTC scholarships with the intention of pursuing a career in the military.
Where will you be in 10 years, and what will you be doing?
Ten years from now, wherever I may be, I hope my family and I are happy and healthy. Ideally, I’d like to still be involved in the military working on international affairs or national security. I hope to be starting, or adding to, my family and owning a bunch of dogs, too. In the end, I’d like to eventually settle back down on the Cape.