It's fair to say that the five year varsity athlete at Cambrian College is more the exception than the rule.
For tenacious graduating soccer defender Marissa Falvo, the lengthy tenure was never really in doubt.
"I loved going in every year knowing that with school starting, that means soccer was starting," she said. "That was what got me excited for school to start. When September comes around next year, it will be so boring."
Her family's soccer involvement in Sudbury already extremely deeply entrenched, Falvo was among the athletes who thrived under the stewardship of coaches Giuseppe Politi and Dayna Corelli and the balance of the Golden Shield staff.
"I really like the coaches," she said with a smile. "I'm the kind of person who likes when people yell at me, because they know I can do better, and I know I can do better. I know I need to push myself harder. I think a lot of people take it too personally. No one is doing it to hurt your feelings. They're doing it to try and get you to push yourself and do the best that you can."
Having played for both her father and uncle in her youth, she suggested the adjustment to Politi and company was relatively seamless. It was that same kind of dogged determination that would inevitably find the perfect fit on the pitch for Falvo.
"I played every position when I was younger, but I just really liked defence," explained the primary right fullback for the two-time OCAA medallists. "I think I like the right side mostly because I'm right-footed. I can use my left, but I would rather my right. That was just a comfort thing for me."
Given the intensity with which she plays, the challenge for Falvo, along the back line, was knowing where and when to increase the veracity of her "one v one" defensive coverage. "I try and know where I am at all times," she suggested. "If I'm closer to the box, I know that I'm not going to high press somebody, to sprint at them and then have the chance of hitting them and getting a foul."
"On the sides of the box, I don't find that as big of a deal, it's not a super dangerous area. I'll jockey in front of them and wait and see where they're going to go. If I give them enough space, they can shoot, but if I don't, they have to choose where else to go. They can't shoot if I'm standing right in front of them."
The reality that she is unlikely to ever face that same level of competition is gradually sinking in for Falvo, just as it does for every post-secondary athlete when their eligibility runs out. "I'm going to miss everything," she admitted. "I'm going to miss hanging out with all of the girls, I'm going to miss training camp, I'm going to miss the coaches."
"I think I took it for granted my first couple of years, always thinking I had more time to play, and now that it's over, it kind of hits you." And while many of her teammates, current and former, find a way to tone it down as they work their way back to a more recreational style of play, Falvo is not making any promises.
"When I'm playing soccer, I'm super competitive," she said. "If I'm playing, I'm playing to win. I don't really care if it's Sudbury Women's Soccer. Everybody knows it."