NORMANDY, France – For former Saint Joseph's women's soccer standout Shannon Mulvey '17, 2019 has already been an exciting year. Along with finishing her second season with Le Havre Athletic Club, she has been readying for the 2019 World Cup. Mulvey spent some time share her experience with HAC and her excitement for the World Cup with SJUHawks.com.
For those unfamiliar with the transition to professional soccer in Europe, how did the opportunity come about for you to continue your playing career?
The owner of my club, HAC, is an American. Along with his wife, he had recently purchased the club and both had a strong desire to build the women's program. They saw economic and social benefits to doing so. He reached out to the head women's coach of his alma mater (Lehigh University) looking for women who were graduating and wanted the opportunity to keep playing. I would have been crazy to say no!
Your team won the league last year, so how has this season been? Has there been more pressure to repeat last year's success?
We did win the league last year - which was absolutely awesome! This season was a whirlwind, but definitely a successful adventure. The pressure to repeat last year's success was evident, but being in a higher league proved to be difficult. We finished second in Division II with a final record of 13-5-4. We faced off with PSG in the French Cup and lost 1-0 on a PK in the 85th minute. All in all, this season was an amazing first year in Division II and shows that hopefully only good things are to come for the club!
What has been the easiest adjustment and what has been the hardest adjustment to playing professionally?
The easiest adjustment has been dealing with the physical and time demands of playing professionally. After playing in college, I felt fully prepared to give as much of my time and energy to the team as needed. College prepared me quite well. The hardest adjustment has been the technical and tactical difference in the European game. The coaching style is much different, but different is good.
Has there been one memorable moment that stands out from playing in France?
For me, the most memorable game in France was in my first season. We were competing regularly in R1 (equivalent to Division III). During the French Cup, the country-wide tournament, we were the first team in the history of the Cup to make it to the Quarterfinals as an R1 team. We played against a Division I team and the atmosphere of the game was amazing. It was a home game and there was close to 10,000 people in the stadium watching us play! It was amazing to see the community come together to support a women's soccer program. Unfortunately, we lost, but at least history was made!
How has the atmosphere been around the team and country with the World Cup beginning soon?
Seeing as our home stadium is hosting the second-most amount of games this World Cup, the town itself has been fully decorated with World Cup gear. Public transportation is covered in World Cup promotion and everywhere you look the FIFA logo is found. The whole country has been on a bit of a "soccer kick" after the men brought home the World Cup last summer, so everyone is definitely rooting for the women to follow in their footsteps. The US Women's National Team played a friendly against France in our stadium in January and the entire stadium was sold out. The place was crazy! Women's soccer has become much more popular and the World Cup has aided this movement.
Has your team been involved with publicity for the World Cup and will you be attending any matches?
For the past year, the team has been promoting the World Cup as often as possible. We have attended conventions and FIFA events throughout the year in order to help out and bring in the fans. The whole club will be attending as many games as possible!
Who is your pick to win the World Cup?
USA! Hometown heroes. But I won't be too upset if France wins.
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