Freshman Bernardi scoring hat tricks in first campaign

by Libby Sweeney / Beacon Correspondent • October 5, 2016

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Bernardi brings skills to the game, head coach Suvak said.
Bernardi brings skills to the game, head coach Suvak said.

Emerson’s women’s soccer team is not lacking in young talent. Their newest addition, Chiara Bernardi, is perhaps the greatest testament to that.

The Lions are already loaded with offensive power in underclassmen such as sophomores Jess Frost and Paige Haley, who collectively have 31 points. But Bernardi adds another layer of contribution and skill to the already-stacked squad.

Bernardi currently leads the team in goals with eight, and has two assists. She also leads the team with 18 points.

In addition, Bernardi has two hat tricks under her belt. One came in the first game of the season, and the other arrived when the squad shut out Pine Manor College 8-0 on Sept. 28.

“I wasn’t really thinking about the hat trick, honestly,” Bernardi said. “I’m happy I got it, though.”

Co-captain Natalie Benjamin said she is enthusiastic about Bernardi’s play.

“Chiara did awesome; she finished a lot of her opportunities. She’s a great forward and has a great strike,” Benjamin, a senior marketing communication major, said. “One of her goals was beautiful—it was right over the keeper’s hands and right under the bar.”

According to Benjamin, Bernardi has brought more than skills to the team.

“She’s a fun person to be around,” Benjamin said. “She is friendly, nice, and definitely a hard worker, whether it’s in practice or off the field. She has really brought in a lot of good skill to this team, whether it’s her ability to score, push people off the ball, or showing up with a good attitude ready to play.”

The ‘ready to play’ attitude that Bernardi carries has been around since she can remember. She said she grew up in a soccer family, with her father being Italian and her mother hailing from Germany.

She said she even lived in Italy for two years with her family. Bernardi said she and her father would drive four hours nearly every week to see his favorite team play in Milan. Even though she was in the sixth grade, Bernardi said it’s still easy to recall the memories.

“One year we were living there, they did really well and they got into the European finals, so we went to Madrid to watch them play there,” Bernardi said. “That probably was one of the best trips I’ve been on for soccer.”

Her recent soccer play has prepared her for collegiate action. Back home in Santa Barbara, California, Bernardi played with the Santa Barbara Soccer Club her last few years of high school. In her last year, the team qualified for a national tournament in Idaho.

Head coach David Suvak attended three of Bernardi’s games during the recruiting process. He said he liked the way she played the sport.

“I saw that she has good technical ability, she has good speed,” Suvak said. “I liked her mentality, her aggressiveness, her drive to compete.”

Suvak said Bernardi wasn’t afraid to compete with upperclassmen, and her confidence on the field manifested itself in how often she took shots.

“I think the type of player she is is a very straight away, fast player that likes to go to goal and shoot,” Suvak said. “She has a very strong mentality to shoot.”

Ironically enough, Bernardi would rather be more of a set-up player than a goal-scorer.

“I try to get other people to score too,” Bernardi said. “Assisting is fun.”

In any case, her importance to the team cannot be overstated. Bernardi is already a starter and plays almost the full game as a freshman.

“She is a very important player to our team,” Suvak said. “I can only see her skills being honed while she is here the next four years to [have] an even greater impact in this conference and for us.”

Beacon correspondent Jackson Ellison contributed to this report.