Donadio a Powerful Force After Two-Year Absence for Morgan Boys’ Soccer
Sometimes, one’s passion for a sport keeps them coming back to it, even when it doesn’t seem like it would. This was the case for Ryan Donadio, who couldn’t seem to keep himself away from soccer permanently.
After a two-year absence from the sport in which he didn’t think he’d return, the Morgan boys’ soccer senior was one of seven final-year members on the squad this fall. While he played his freshman season when initially entering the high school circuit, Ryan decided to stop playing soccer the next two years, and wasn’t part of the Huskies during the 2021 and 2022 seasons. Entering his senior year in 2023, Ryan had a change of heart, primarily due to the influence of his friends. He also realized he liked it better when he played soccer, rather than when he sat out.
“I decided to come back my senior year, mostly because of the encouragement of kids on the soccer team,” says Ryan. “Many of them had told me that they wished I kept playing, so I decided to give it one more shot, and ended up having lots of fun my senior year.”
Ryan was unfortunately part of a Huskies team in 2020, his freshman year, in which the season was cut short due to COVID-19. It wasn’t anything Ryan had expected.
“I remember showing up on the first day of practice and everybody had to be separated by last names because of COVID,” says Ryan. “We were only allowed to stay in our corner of the field, and couldn’t go anywhere else. Unfortunately, our season was cut short that year due to a COVID outbreak and we couldn’t finish the year.”
Following an unusual and very unprecedented season, Ryan lost interest in being on the field, not knowing how much he would eventually miss it.
“After my freshman year, I sort of fell out of love with playing soccer and just thought it wasn’t for me,” Ryan says. “It wasn’t anything with the kids on the team or the coaches. I just stopped enjoying playing.”
Although he didn’t really see the varsity field before this season, Ryan made a big impact as a first-year varsity starter as a center defensive midfielder and center back. Morgan Head Coach Ross DeMay notes that Ryan was the physical and aggressive presence the team desperately needed.
“His physicality in the middle really aided us,” says DeMay. “He was one of three seniors that started and got decent time. It took a little while for his skill to come back, as it showed at the end of the year when he really made some big plays for us. But he had quiet leadership — he always pushed hard, he never complained. He just went out and played hard the entire time. He was just hard-nosed, very coachable, and worked extremely hard this season.”
Ryan helped lead Morgan to a 9-5-2 regular season record. The Huskies qualified for the Class S State Tournament as the 19th seed, facing the 14th-seeded Oxford Wolverines (10-4-1). Neither team was going to lose without a fight, but it was the Wolverines who came out on top, beating the Huskies 5-4 in penalty kicks in double overtime.
In speaking more to Ryan’s impact on the Huskies, Demay highlights the fact that he filled a major role in the center defense that the team lost the season before. Had he been on the team for his sophomore and junior seasons, he would’ve been super valuable.
“His sophomore year, he probably would have been a regular coming off the bench,” says DeMay. “His junior year, he probably would have started and added to our defensive shape. It probably would have made an impact more this year than last year, because last year we had an extremely good center back. But this year we needed that physical senior leader in the middle to really put us over to give us more success, and he filled that role.”
Ryan brought constant effort and hard work to his role on the Morgan squad, existing as a physical force that will be hard to replace next fall.
“We’re gonna miss that physical presence,” says DeMay. “I know, especially in high school, you need that ability to challenge and go up and be strong in the air, and be able to win balls physically, especially in the middle. We’ll see if someone could step up next year to do that. He came out and helped with that. If it weren’t for him, it probably would have been a lot different as far as we wouldn’t have had the season we had this year, just because we wouldn’t have had that kind of enforcer in the middle.”
Playing his senior season meant a lot to Ryan, as he was able to enjoy and create memories with childhood friends, ones that he’ll forever cherish from his final campaign on the turf.
“This season meant a lot to me because it was my last year playing soccer,” Ryan says. “I have great memories of playing park and rec, travel, and middle school soccer with my friends, and it was great to have one last year with all of my classmates. We grew up playing together and against each other.”