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Heartrending and Heartwarming: STU Soccer Teams Host First-Ever Mary Cronin Memorial Game

On September 23, St. Thomas University’s Tommies hosted the inaugural Mary Cronin Memorial game, a poignant tribute to a beloved STU alum who tragically passed away the previous year. Mary Cronin had been a member of the STU women’s soccer team before transferring to the UNB women’s rugby team, where she played for one season.

The STU men’s and women’s soccer teams faced off against the Dalhousie Agricultural Campus Rams, achieving remarkable victories with scores of 6-0 and 4-0, respectively.

Michele Cronin, Mary’s mother, expressed a mix of emotions as she watched the heartfelt tribute to her daughter. She remarked, ‘It’s hard, but at the same time, it speaks to Mary and her personality and how many people she had an impact on, and how many loved her.’ She described the experience as both heartwarming and heartbreaking.

Cronin emphasized the significance of sports in her daughter’s life, highlighting Mary’s strong work ethic and dedication to playing hard. Mary considered her varsity teams as a second family that provided vital support throughout her university journey.

The memorial game was emotionally charged and featured a ceremony by a newly planted red maple tree, aligned with the goalpost, in honor of Mary’s position on the team. Michele Cronin recalled Mary’s passionate support for her team, stating, ‘When she played soccer and was at the back of a net, you would hear her yelling, supporting her team no matter what happened.’

Cronin hopes that this memorial game serves as a lesson for all, emphasizing the importance of support within teams, not only from teammates but also from their families and friends.

Michelle DeCourcey, former coach of the STU women’s soccer team, reflected on the opportunity to reunite with familiar faces and remember the close-knit family that Mary was a part of. She coached Mary during her time at STU, including in 2018 when Cronin served as captain of the ACAA championship-winning team. DeCourcey described Mary as a natural leader who could keep her teammates in line.

Lauren Erb, a fifth-year goalie for the Tommies, had shared the pitch with Mary Cronin for many years. They had even competed together at the national level with the Fredericton District Soccer Association. Erb credited Mary with inspiring her to attend STU and cherished the connection they shared. Erb emphasized the emotional significance of the game, remarking that Mary’s presence was palpable despite her absence.

Abby Cameron, co-captain of the Tommies, felt honored to participate in the memorial game and represent Mary. She described Mary as a remarkable person and soccer player and acknowledged the game’s unique significance. The team played with a different mindset, motivated by the memory of Mary and the realization that nothing in life is guaranteed.

Cameron recounted an emotional moment in the locker room before kick-off, where Lauren Erb’s words resonated deeply with the team: ‘Nothing’s guaranteed, go out there and give it your all because you never know when’s your last game.’ Mary’s jersey was hung up in the locker room, and each player paid their respects with a kiss before taking the field.

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