Southeast's All-Time Helper
Nov. 15, 2007
Story by Kevin Winters Morriss, Southeast Missourian
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - Alaina Lacopo excels at helping others.
The Southeast Missouri State senior soccer player broke the program's career assists record earlier this season and is a big reason why the Redhawks are headed to the NCAA tournament.
She leads the Redhawks with nine assists this season, giving her 28 for her career. She's tied for 15th in the country in assists per game at 0.53.
"It's just something I've been able to do," Lacopo said. "Throughout high school too, I was able to get a lot of assists."
Lacopo's assists aren't limited to the field. She's helped mentor the program's top goal scorers this season -- freshman Ashley Runion and sophomore Courtney Alexander. Lacopo said she's comfortable serving as a leader on the team.
"I have some pretty good leadership skills," she said. "I've been lucky enough to take part in some leadership conferences through the university."
Lacopo, Runion and Alexander, the team's three starting forwards, have helped the team average 2.18 goals per game, 22nd best in the nation.
"We're able to find openings and slow it down," Lacopo said.
And while she's looking for scoring chances, Runion and Alexander are maneuvering to gain position because they know Lacopo will deliver them the ball.
"She just puts the ball in the right place," Runion said.
Lacopo and the Redhawks will be tested in their first-round game. They face the University of Missouri, a team they faced during the spring season. The Tigers are 13-7 after losing to Texas A&M in the Big 12 Conference tournament semifinals.
"Mizzou is a great team," Lacopo said. "It helps a little bit that we've seen them."
This is the second straight year the Redhawks have reached the NCAA tournament. Lacopo said the team enters with a determined attitude.
"We're not satisfied yet," she said. "We're not done yet."
The Redhawks face the Tigers at 7 p.m. Friday in Columbia, Mo. Game time can't arrive soon enough for Lacopo.
"I just can't wait to get on that field," she said. "I won't get nervous until the game starts."
But she's going to take some time to savor the experience as the time winds down on her college soccer career.
"I've been playing soccer for 17 years," she said. "I'm going to miss everything. ... It will be the end of college. I guess I'll have to get a real job."