EMU senior Ariel Barbosa (Baltimore, Md./Towson) has taken her last season as a Royal to the next level. As the women’s soccer team won their first four games, Ariel scored two goals in those games.
Prior to learning about Eastern Mennonite University, Ariel was looking for a smaller Christian school with charismatic people and interesting options for majors, along with being able to play soccer at the D-III level. Ariel first spoke with Coach Ted Erickson as a high schooler and felt captured by his vision.
“He lit up just talking about it, inviting me to imagine with him,” she explained. “I was part of a year of major recruitment to kickstart this vision of reviving the program, and I was thrilled to be part of it.”
This year’s senior class is comprised of four women (Leah Wenger (Harrisonburg, Va./Eastern Mennonite), Laura Rittenhouse (Harrisonburg, Va./Eastern Mennonite) and Emily Hostetler (Marshallville, Ohio/Smithville) along with Ariel) who have stuck together from the beginning and plan to finish their last season strong.
Despite only four of the 14 original 2020 recruits remaining, “Ariel has come into this season focused,” said Coach Erickson, “and she is a huge reason we have had such a successful start.”
“Statistically, we have changed this program,” Ariel said of her senior classmates. “Perfect seasons no, but we have superpowers like flip throws, still being a boss despite nursing school, and intergalactic goalkeeping. Still being here after four years feels good, like culminating in a way.”
Going into this season, Ariel’s thoughts were not focused on the amount of playing time she would receive, rather on the effort that she would give.
“A clean mind, an open spirit, and a purposeful body,” Ariel said as her mantra this season. On the days of a game or practice, she focuses on those three ideas.
Ariel’s post graduation plans are uncertain, but she hopes to get involved with community arts and justice work, stating that these elements provide her with energy and balance. In lieu of the confusion, she has found comfort in saving funds towards potentially moving to her father’s hometown of Salvador, Brazil.
-- Bri Miller, EMU Sports Information Writing Intern