By KEVIN OKLOBZIJA
When Elin Eklund finished her cross-continent, trans-Atlantic live video recruiting chat with Monroe Community College coach Sal Galvano two years ago, discussing the opportunity with her parents wasn’t the first order of business.
She needed to find a map.
A native of Gothenberg, Sweden, Eklund had never heard of MCC and couldn’t really say where in New York that Rochester was located.
But it wasn’t long before Eklund declined two other junior-college opportunities and said yes to Galvano’s invitation to join the Tribunes women’s soccer team.
She couldn’t be happier with her choice. And she’s spending this summer in Rochester so she can play with the Lady Lancers in the United Women’s Soccer development league.
“It’s an amazing school and I really liked it there,” Eklund said of MCC. “Everyone was so helpful and there were so many resources.”
In the classroom, she was able to establish a foundation for her teaching degree. On the pitch, she was able to help the Tribunes reach the NJCAA Final Four and impressed the coaches at the University of Bridgeport to earn a spot with the NCAA Division II program for the 2018 season.
Her parents, Anette and Anders, were at Charlie Schiano Sr. Field at Marina Auto Stadium on Sunday afternoon to watch Elin and the Lady Lancers play their 2018 home debut.
The game didn’t go so well for Rochester. After starting the season with a draw and blowout victory on the road, the Lady Lancers fell 4-0 to the Connecticut Fusion.
The Fusion scored off a corner kick in the 44th minute to take a 1-0 lead into the half, but only after the Lancers failed to score on two quality chances in the first 25 minutes.
“That would have changed the game,” Galvano said of the failure to capitalize. “But they’re a good side.”
The good news from Eklund’s standpoint is that she made through the entire game at midfield. She couldn’t say that about the last time her parents made the 20-hour trip from Sweden to Rochester to watch her.
“They came here my first year at MCC (the 2016-17 school year) and I got injured 10 minutes into the game,” she said.
Eklund was a first-team NSCAA All-American in 2016 and a second-team selection in 2017 and Galvano likes the talent she brings to the Lady Lancers.
“She’s a good all-around player,” he said. “She knows how to play simple soccer and that’s difficult to do.”
Playing in UWS will be helpful as Eklund transitions to a higher level of collegiate soccer.
“It’s good since I’m going to a Division II school now; I feel it’s good preparation,” she said.
While Eklund has enjoyed her first time away from home, her mother was hoping the end of her career at MCC would be the end of her visit to North America. Under NCAA rules, she has just one season of eligibility, so that limited the number of schools that had interest.
“Because I struggled to find a school for next year, my mother said, ‘Well, then you should come home,’ ” Eklund said. “But my father said I should continue to pursue the opportunity.”
She decided father knows best.