By Nora Princiotti | Hatchet Reporter
Tyler Ranalli plays every game to prove a point: He is not the same young player on a losing team.
The senior co-captain is lighting up the stat sheet for the Colonials this year, amassing half the team’s goals thus far. His drive to succeed, he said, may come as a force of habit. Throughout his life on the pitch, coaches have continually underestimated him and set low expectations, he said.
“I’ve always played with a little bit of a chip on my shoulder. I’ve never gotten the respect that I feel like I deserve,” he said.
It’s clear that the Ohio native doesn’t let memories of soccer failure fade, remembering specific details of each season going back to elementary school. “My teams were never good. When I was eight, we lost every game. When I was nine, we won one game,” he said.
Even all the way back to when he was four years old, Ranalli said his soccer career has not always enjoyed much success. “I had a lot of fun playing it, but I wasn’t very good. I was slow,” Ranalli said, jokingly.
And when he was 16, he switched positions to forward, just to show his coaches that he should get a chance on the field.
This year, Ranalli is single-handedly trying to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself. The Colonials have a losing record of 3-4, though, and have their work cut out for them to make something of this season. The team is trying to rebound from a 5-13 season last year.
But Ranalli’s play, with five goals and three assists, has been a highlight. Against VMI two weeks ago, Ranalli netted a hat trick and tacked on an assist in the Colonials’ 4-0 rout. In the next game against UMBC, he scored once more.
Like when he was younger, Ranalli still guides his play with the mantra “be prepared,” putting in two to three extra hours on the practice field every week.
He wants “to be the one person that my teammates” can rely on, he said. “That pushes me to try to prepare and do as much as I possibly can, so that I’m the most prepared person on the field – so that when it comes time, I won’t let anyone down,” Ranalli added.
His work – this season especially, after GW finished at the bottom of the Atlantic 10 last year – has not gone unnoticed by head coach Craig Jones.
“This season in particular he has spent a lot of time working with the coaches, just hitting balls,” Jones said. “On the field, his preparation and how he trains for the game – he leads by example.”
Jones described what motivates the co-captain in simple terms: “Scoring goals.”
“In past years he would probably say he didn’t score as many goals as he would have liked, but then we’ve used him in a deeper position, so he’s overall been used in a much deeper role and he’s done great for us,” Jones said.
The drive prompted his coach to transition Ranalli fully to the forward position, after playing at midfield for much of last season. Ranalli’s personal history suggests that this may yield good results.
“When I was 16, the team I played for, I wasn’t really good enough to start at center midfielder so the coach asked me to start at forward. I think I scored five goals in the first three games, so they told me I could play forward,” Ranalli said.
Ranalli has started every game of the season as a forward this year, and seems to be making up for lost time in the goal department.
Still, the Colonials have lost three of their last four games and Ranalli will need to keep practicing, and get some help from his teammates, if he wants to avoid being on a losing team again.
“I know that I’ll take the time during the week to go out and do the extra practice, because I know I need to keep improving, and I have confidence – because I’m doing all this extra [practice]a – that I’ll be better than the people I’m playing,” Ranalli said.