Ruthie Laroche – Messenger Sports

Hannah Letourneau, second from left, and a gathering of her teammates at Clarkson University.

As of early September, Hannah and her teammates had played five games and two scrimmages.

The team won the first scrimmage and then tied the second against DII  Le Moyne College. For DIII Clarkson, that was a big step in the right direction.

After the scrimmages, the team went on to play five games in ten days.

“It’s tough playing games back to back,” said Hannah, smiling. “I’m grateful for more playing time this year, but I will say that it’s hard to play those 90 minutes. It’s taxing on body and mind.”

In the first game of the season, the Golden Knights earned a 3-2 win in the North Country classic.

“We were down 1-0 and came back,” explained Hannah, “They tied the game, but one of our seniors hit a great shot off the post for a 3-2 win!”

Clarkson won the next two games 2-0 and 1-0.

“We were on a high from those wins!” said Hannah.

A road trip brought the Golden Knights their first tie.

“The same senior who tied the earlier game for us hit a shot with seconds left in the game to tie it. We went into double overtime and ended with a tie.”

The next day the Golden Knights took their first loss 1-0 on a penalty kick.

The 2019 season may be young, but it’s already off to a better start than last year when the team struggled through nine losses.

“Six of the games were 1-0 losses for us last year. We’d be in the game and then one mess up would cost us the win,” said Hannah. “We couldn’t finish.”

The most upsetting loss came against William Smith, a school that Clarkson always struggled against. 

“It was an incredible game! The score was 0-0 for most of the game. One goal was scored against us,” said Hannah. “The only thing that was stopping us was that we couldn’t put the ball in the net.”

Although the season was a losing one, the margin of the losses gave the team hope.

“We knew we were competitive; we weren’t getting walked over,” said Hannah. “We had to put aside the losses and head into the next game.”

At the end of the season and the end of her freshman year, Hannah was grateful for the entire experience.

“Classes and grades come first; that’s why I’m here, but being on this team is one of the best experiences I’ve ever been part of. It just takes a lot to balance it all.”

Hannah played soccer through her elementary and high school years, and she also played for a local club team, Nordic, allowing her to come to college with a lot of on-field time under her belt.

Even with all that experience, she’s still learning a lot about the game.

“Coach Shaw was previously a DI coach and he brings a lot to the team. He’s so knowledgeable and sees things differently than my other coaches,” said Hannah. “He played pro soccer, and he’s big on the little things–good passes, good footwork, and quickness.”

Through all her years of playing, Hannah has had many coaches, but one stands out in her mind.

“My dad was my coach for many years,” explained Hannah, “and he passed away my senior year of high school.”

The loss of her father was devastating; he had always been the one who helped her through the different phases of the game.

Hannah recalled her junior year of high school when she tore her ACL. She knew that many college athletes were recruited during their junior season, and she’d be on the sideline in a brace.

“I’d given up on playing in college after that injury, but my dad told me I could do it,” said Hannah. “When he passed away and I didn’t know if I could do it without him.”

But Hannah’s college dreams were far from over. The Clarkson coach reached out to her and asked her to play for the team. She agreed and took up the challenge, even if it meant she’d head into the unknown on her own.

“It was so hard knowing my dad wasn’t going to be on the sideline.”

Thankfully, her teammates recognize the love Hannah has for her father, and they’ve helped her celebrate his life and mourn his loss.

“Last year we had a game on the first anniversary of my dad’s death. It was a league game, and we worked hard. The game went to overtime, and we won. It was our only in league win,” said Hannah. “Winning that game was huge for us and for me personally. It was the highlight of my season.”

Hannah recalled a beautiful act her teammates gave to her that day.

“We set out a lantern for my dad before the game,” said Hannah. “At that moment I knew the team was my family at college.”

Hannah is grateful for her Clarkson family, but she’s also thankful for the coaches, teammates, teachers, friends, and family who have always supported her.  

“College is a lot of hard work, but you have to know that there are people out there who will encourage you all the way,” said Hannah.

During the season, Hannah’s mom Cheryl makes it to many of Hannah’s home games and watches away games on the computer.

Her two older brothers, one older sister, and her nephews also attend home games, often with homemade t-shirts.

“It’s great to see them out there and know they are supporting me,” said Hannah. “It’s great to know that I was able to do this and they are behind me.”

And no matter how a game or a season goes, Hannah has another person she will always remember with gratitude.

“My dad put so much time and effort into the player and person I am today.”