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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim, Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

Argentine star brings ‘contagious’ energy to St. Joe’s field hockey squad

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The Hawk News
Senior Manu Ghigliotti takes a penalty shot, Sept. 15 against VCU,. PHOTO: MADELINE WILLIAMS ’26 /THE HAWK

Manu Ghigliotti was getting ready to take the field for her postgame ritual, practicing shots on goal to clear her mind, following St. Joe’s 6-1 field hockey win over previously undefeated Yale Sept. 3.

Instead, the senior left forward was advised to take the day off since she got plenty of practice during the game with seven shots on goal, netting four to tie the program record for most goals and points in a game.

For Ghigliotti, it was a feat that paled in comparison to the team’s win.

“I really care about this team and the culture of St. Joe’s,” Ghigliotti said. “It’s nice to, of course, tie a record, but I’m not thinking about that. I want to score, of course, and I want to win.”

St. Joe’s Head Coach Hannah Prince believes the recent milestone will only boost Ghigliotti’s confidence and thinks the star senior will continue achieving great things. But Ghigliotti knows it is not possible without the 10 other women on the field with her.

“I texted her after and said ‘Congrats,’” Prince said. “All she said was, ‘I’m really glad we got the win.’”

Matching a program record is the most recent in a long list of accomplishments for Ghigliotti, who has received a number of Atlantic 10 (A-10) honors, including 2021 A-10 offensive player of the year.

This season, she has led the No. 13 Hawks to a 6-2 record (1-0 A-10). She also leads the conference in goals, shots and shots on goal, accomplishments that Ghigliotti emphasized have not affected her performance.

“I really don’t feel pressure,” Ghigliotti said. “I just come and play and have fun with my friends and I love it.”

Playing field hockey since she was five years old, Ghigliotti grew up in Buenos Aires and was invited as a teen to train with Argentina’s under-21 national team. That experience, combined with more informal workouts with members of the senior team, gave her new insight into the game.

“They’re like 30 years old, and when I started playing with them, I was 16,” Ghigliotti said. “I think maybe I have a little bit more experience in the field.”

In Argentina, the practice occurs in shorter, more intense intervals, with players practicing about three times a week, compared to the U.S., where players participate in activities like film study during longer practices, Ghigliotti said.

“It’s an hour and a half, and you’re giving everything there,” Ghigliotti said. “Here, it’s maybe more like four hours of scouting people.”

Ghigliotti came to St. Joe’s in 2021 after the covid-19 pandemic prevented her from starting in 2020.

“I didn’t look for much,” Ghigliotti said. “[St. Joe’s] gave me the opportunity, and I took it.”

With her came junior midfielder Sol Borensztein, from Pilar, Argentina. Ghigliotti and Borensztein use their shared background to communicate on and off the field.

“We can connect a lot on the field,” Borensztein said. “We both understand the game in Argentina.”

Their understanding of field hockey has benefited not just them, but also the entire team. With eight international athletes on the roster, Prince said the team expects that each player will bring their own experience and personality.

“I love that we have different styles of [field] hockey, different personalities, people coming and even speaking different languages,” Prince said. “It helps advance who we are and makes us a stronger group.”

The Argentine style of play focuses on high individual talent, which Ghigliotti brings to the field, Prince said.

“She’s got a definitely a spicy side to her and she is very creative on the ball. She loves her [three-dimensional] skills,” Prince said. “Just a very creative player who likes to generate a lot of attack and loves to score goals and loves to shoot.”

Ghigliotti’s style of play is complemented by her sweeter nature as a teammate.

“She has the energy of a puppy dog,” Prince said. “That’s what we joke about her is that her energy is contagious and is seemingly never-ending.”

For Borensztein, Ghigliotti provides her with a taste of home.

“I can go to her every time I need something,” Borensztein said. “She’s the only thing I have here.”

As for her other teammates, Ghigliotti sets a standard of hard work in practice and through her determination to constantly work — as demonstrated by her postgame routine.

“She’s just a phenomenal player that sets the tone for other people to continue to develop and to lead by example,” Prince said.

A ritual Ghigliotti said started out of frustration has continued to contribute to an ever-growing list of achievements, only stopping for extreme heat and a tied program record.

“I always grab five balls and take some shots,” Ghigliotti said “Clear my mind a little bit. You know, focus on the next game and just be done with this day.”

This article was first published by the Philadelphia Inquirer Sept. 20, 2023 as part of the Inquirer’s college correspondent program.

This article was first published by the Philadelphia Inquirer Sept. 20, 2023 as part of the Inquirer’s college correspondent program.

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