South Euclid, OH- After Morgan Lichtinger’s career for the Falcons came to an abrupt finish on a cold and windy November evening in the American Mideast Conference women’s soccer semi-final, the Roseville, Calif. native thought that would be the end of her playing career.
A 2007 graduate of Roseville High School, Roseville, Calif. Lichtinger following two seasons at Sierra Junior College where she was named the 2007 Most Improved player, looking for a new challenge. “After speaking to various coaches around the country, (Mike) Shiels got right back to me and spoke to my coaches. It’s very random, but I’m very happy it happened.” A four-time First Team All-Sierra Foothill League selection for Coach Pablo Gutierrez, the 5-foot-6 center back helped Mike Shiels lead the Notre Dame Falcons to back-to-back American Mideast Conference Semifinals.
A sports management major, Lichtinger turned her focus to graduation and her plans to stay with sports in coaching or as an Athletic Director after the final collegiate loss in November. “I want to stay connected to sports after graduation; there is a lot of passion involved, that’s what I love about sports.”
Her love for sports and soccer remained, never expecting to be given another opportunity to continue playing. “I was contacted by the president of the Western New York Flash.” Said Lichtinger, “She told me that I had been selected by the coaching staff to come to their tryout, I didn’t expect the invite at all, so it was a nice surprise to know that my hard work had paid off.”
“Morgan had a fantastic year this past season and we’re very happy that this opportunity has presented itself.” Said women’s soccer coach #Mike Shiels#, “She really worked hard to improve her game after her first season and really became a more polished and disciplined player. She earned the right to be a captain this past year on and off the field and most importantly in the classroom. We are absolutely delighted for her.”
WPS is the highest level women’s professional soccer league in North America. Formed in September 2007 as the result of the efforts of the Women’s Soccer Initiative, Inc., WPS, began play on March 29, 2009. The Flash won the top amateur women’s league United Soccer Leagues’ W-League last season before applying for a WPS franchise.
Lichtinger took the opportunity that many only dream of, “Every athlete dreams about playing at the professional level, but the thought of it actually coming true is almost unreal.” Said Lichtinger, “Of course I have always wanted to play professionally and thought it would be so awesome, but I never really thought I could have the chance.”
After drafting four players including the first overall, US Women’s National Team member Alex in the 2011 WPS Draft and acquiring the FIFA World Player of the Year Marta, it was a cold and snowing day that Lichtinger set foot on the field with 60 of the best college and professional players from around the world with a chance to fulfill such a dream.
“Many serious athlete dreams about playing at the professional level, but the thought of it actually coming true are almost unreal.” Reflecting on the tryout, Lichtinger said, “Players were brought in from all over the world. Some had just finished their college career like I did. And others had been playing professionally for several years. And while I didn’t make the team, it was a true honor to be invited.”
Lichtinger concluded a stellar career for coach Shiels and the Falcons, helping lead the squad to the 2009 and 2010 AMC Semifinals. The loan senior in the Falcons defense, helped anchored the back line who kept nine shutouts and a solid 1.00 goals against average while facing a tough non conference schedule that featured then sixth-ranked (NAIA Women’s Soccer Coaches’ Poll) Martin Methodist (Tenn.) and ninth-ranked, William Carey (Miss.).
Lichtinger scored three game winning goals in her two seasons for the Falcons including the AMC Quarterfinal winning goal just 4:49 into the match, Nov. 8, 2009 in a 2-0 win over Walsh. She concluded her final season scoring from 28 yards on free kick Sept. 22, 2010 in 1-0, win over Ursuline, before scoring the game the winning goal from the midfield stripe Oct. 16, 2010 in a 2-1, win over Cedarville. A 2010 First Team All-American Mideast Conference and NAIA/NCAA-II All-Ohio First Team selected by the Ohio Collegiate Soccer Association, Lichtinger was also named Honorable Mention All-AMC in 2009.