North senior Caitlin Stuart saw her high school soccer career come to an end last week with a 4-0 loss at Madison in a Division I sectional championship game, but the lockdown defender has plenty of soccer left in her future.
Stuart has committed to continue her education and soccer career at the University of Mount Union in Alliance, Ohio.
“It’s really crazy thinking that I’m going to be playing in college in a few short months,” Stuart said. “It has always been one of my dreams and to see it finally come true is a great feeling. All my hard work paid off.”
A three-year captain at North, Stuart has scored nine goals with 12 assists in her career, despite playing on the defensive end.
She also earned recognition as an all-Western Reserve Conference and all-Greater Cleveland honoree.
According to North coach Mark Wardeiner, her impact extended beyond the playing field.
“Her leadership instilled confidence in our team that started five freshmen and two sophomores while competing against some of the top-ranked teams in the Greater Cleveland area,” Wardeiner said. “She was definitely the glue that held the team together.”
Stuart also considered Gannon University and Slippery Rock before settling on Mount Union.
“When choosing what school I wanted to go to, I knew I had to like the school before considering the soccer part,” she said. “I loved Mount Union’s campus, the atmosphere and the courses they offer, considering I want to be a Physical Therapist and they have that program.”
A meeting last spring with Mount Union head coach Kelley Clark sealed Stuart’s fate.
“I first met the coach when I went on a visit last spring and we set up a meeting with her. I instantly liked her attitude,” Stuart said. “We kept in touch and she came to watch me play and I attended an open field after we communicated on the phone and I made my decision to go there.”
Stuart, who is most comfortable playing as a defender but will switch positions to help the team if needed, felt very comfortable on the field with her future teammates.
“I feel like I will fit in well with the team,” she said. “During the open field, I felt comfortable playing with them and they were very welcoming and supportive.”
It won’t be easy to put her high school career behind her, but Stuart is excited for the future at Mount Union, on and off the field.
“I’m going to miss my close friends you make when playing on the same team as someone,” Stuart said. “I’m also going to miss my crazy, amazing coaches, but I’m ready to move on to bigger and better things.”