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Meghan Scharer’s soccer career officially came to an end last Sunday in Richmond, Va.

Scharer, a senior defender at the University of Dayton, and the Flyers lost to Atlantic 10 Conference rival LaSalle on penalty kicks, 5-4, in double overtime in the conference tournament finals. Dayton, the A-10 regular-season champion, finished 15-4-2.

“It was tough,” said Scharer, a 2009 Clay graduate. “I’m not ready for it to be done. That was not the way you want to go out. But, that’s the game of soccer.”

The sport has been everything to Scharer ever since she started playing organized soccer at age 8. The realization that her UD career ended last weekend still hadn’t sunk in by Monday night.

“Right now it’s still pretty fresh,” she said. “It’s tough. It’s not easy to swallow for something that has consumed my life for so long. I’m definitely going to miss every aspect of the team, my teammates. Just going out and giving everything you have, looking next to you and having your teammates there. Just the whole team concept. They’re my sisters, and the memories we have will last forever.”

Dayton coach Mike Tucker certainly will miss the 5-foot-5 Scharer, a second-team all-conference selection this season. She also was one of four Flyers named to the Capital One Academic All-District 5 team. Scharer, an exercise science major, was voted to the second team.

“In 22 years of coaching I have never had a player make more of her abilities than did Meghan,” Tucker said. “There’s no better example than Meg of what hard work can accomplish. Meghan is an excellent athlete, but it’s her heart and her determination that define her as a player. She knows no other way than going 100 percent. She was the first to fire up her teammates, she never backed down from any challenge, and she was the first to deflect praise to her teammates.”

Scharer and her fellow UD seniors have been a part of three A-10 championship teams and two NCAA Tournament appearances. LaSalle’s win over the Flyers last Sunday gave the Explorers the conference’s automatic berth in the upcoming NCAA tourney.

“What took place at that A-10 tournament,” Tucker said, “is a perfect example of Meg’s competitiveness.”

Last Thursday, two minutes into the second half of an eventual 5-4 win over Virginia Commonwealth, Scharer suffered a nasty cut under her right eye that required several stitches. Even worse, she said, was that she had to sit out the rest of the game.

“I was coming in for a header and the girl’s cleat came up as I was going down,” Scharer said. “It hit the side of my face and it left a pretty big gash. I had to come off; they stitched it up right then and there. I was laying on a table the rest of the game. We were up 5-2 when I went out, then (VCU) got within 5-4 and I was on the table listening to that. It was crazy. I didn’t even care about the stitches at that point.”

Scharer was back on the field the next night, helping Dayton rip St. Bonaventure 4-1.

“Not playing was not an option for me,” she said. “Senior year, you’d have to cart me off the field or amputate my leg for me not to play. I was a little bit swollen, but I could see perfectly fine. My teammates helped me out.”

Tucker said Scharer actually tried to re-enter the game against LaSalle.

“She started and played every minute of the next two matches and never backed away from a tackle or challenge in the air,” Tucker said. “Meg was truly inspiring. We’ll certainly miss what she has brought to the field this past year and throughout her career. Even more so, we will miss the quality human being, student-athlete and great teammate that is Meghan Scharer.”

Asked if she, personally, had the kind of senior season she hoped for, Scharer deflected her accomplishments back to the team.

“We won the regular season in the A-10, which was one of our goals,” she said. “Our main goal was to win the A-10 championship and get as far as we could in the NCAA. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to capitalize. We still won a regular-season title. I did pretty good. Just being able to be on the field was all I could ever ask for and all that I would ever want.”

Scharer, 21, who said her parents, Dave and Karen, only missed two games in her four years at UD, said playing for the Flyers was “a great experience.” She will earn her degree in May.

“I’d like to be remembered as someone who did everything I can for the team,” Scharer said. “Just playing hard, with heart and passion, and taking advantage of every opportunity the Lord gives me. It’s been a good ride.”

Bill Cosby

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