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Home for the Holidays: North Hall grad Mancin stays busy at Columbus State
North Hall High grad Mary Mancin prepares to kick the ball away from her goal for the Columbus State University women’s soccer team against Barry University on Sept. 11 in Columbus this season. The Lady Cougars made the second round of the NCAA Division II tournament this year. - photo by For The Times

Mary Mancin deserves a break.

The North Hall High grad and junior goalkeeper at Columbus State University was constantly on the field this fall, between playing more than 2,000 minutes of game time, one of only two NCAA goal keepers to do so, and also coaching in the Columbus Youth Soccer league for two separate squads. On top of that, she’s got academic responsibilities and a is a Scholar Athlete All-American nominee with a degree track in exercise science.

But soccer isn’t a burden for Mancin — it’s her life’s main passion. However, she was able to get away for a few days during the holidays to come home to visit family and friends in Hall County. She’s already been selected as an All-Region selection for her play this season.

"It’s good to have a break but playing soccer is my lifestyle," said Mancin. "I have a routine in place that I follow everyday."

As a junior, Mancin didn’t come out of the game, except for a couple minutes late in one game. Not only was she a vocal leader on the pitch for the Lady Cougars (16-4-3) in 2011, but was one of their most talented players.

Mancin was a crucial part of No. 20 Columbus State advancing to the second round of the Division II NCAA tournament, allowing only 13 goals all season. She said the defining moment of the season personally was a blocked goal attempt from North Georgia College & State University All-American Emily Dover, preserving a 1-0 win. After that game, Mancin went on to record nine more shutouts. The year was especially satisfying for Mancin after coming back onto the pitch from painful tendonitis that kept her away for about three weeks prior to the season.

Part of her success this year at Columbus State comes from the fact that she demands personal perfection.

"I’m so hard on myself," Mancin said. "Every time the other team scored a goal, I blamed it on myself."

Mancin said the motivation all season for the Lady Cougars was when the Peach Belt Conference coaches voted her team fourth in preseason balloting — a slap in the face for a team with six straight conference titles and an equally long streak of NCAA tournament appearances.

"That really motivated us," Mancin said. "It made us feel like the underdog."

She says it was a rebuilding year to start with, after losing eight starters from the previous season. And backup goalkeeper Willi Babillis was dismissed from the team early in the year, leaving Mancin in the position to guard the net. With a strong group of players coming back in all areas of the field next season, Mancin is looking forward to her senior year at Columbus State.

Still, two memories linger in Mancin’s head from the 2011 season. Columbus State’s season ended in the Southeastern Regional semifinals in penalty kicks against Lenoir-Rhyne. In the fourth round of the shootout, Mancin blocked the shot, but it was ruled by the referee that she came off the line early. With the extra kick, Lenoir-Rhyne’s player made the next two attempts to pull out the win.

Against Armstrong Atlantic in the Peach Belt Conference championship game, the Lady Pirates scored on a shot from Nadima Skeff with just 10 seconds remaining to take a 1-0 win. Mancin said it was controversial due to the fact that Armstrong Atlantic had 13 players on the field and video evidence even backed it up.

However, Columbus State managed some of its best success on the heels of a loss this season. After losing to Lenoir-Rhyne on Oct. 2, the Lady Cougars went on the win nine straight heading into the Peach Belt Championship contest.

That kind of momentum has Mancin very excited about what’s to come for Columbus State in 2012.

"I’m so proud of my team and really excited for next season," Mancin said.

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