Senior forward on the Montclair State Women’s Soccer Team, Francesca Gibson, adds her name to the history books.
After recording her first career hat trick in a 7-0 victory over Centenary College on September 6th, Gibson grabbed a spot on the MSU women’s soccer all time scoring list. Her 39 career goals, 13 of these being game winners, advance her to the 5th spot on the list, while she also moves up the ladder for all time total points.
“It feels really good to know I’m apart of history,” Gibson said. “The girls who have completed that before me are in the hall of fame.”
The accomplishment has been a long time coming for Gibson. She’s been an explosive asset to the team’s offense since her freshmen year in 2011, when she led the team in goals despite rookie jitters.
“I was really scared as a freshmen,” Gibson said. “But as time went by I guess it just sank in that I’m a college soccer player, so I got used to it pretty quick.”
Now she’s in the midst of her last season as a Red Hawk with 7 goals and 4 assists. Throughout her four years here, the standout has been placed on the all conference team, all-region team, and has received numerous NJAC Offensive Player of the Week honors. Underlying all this success, however, is the fact that Gibson almost never came to Montclair State.
In 2010 during her junior year of high school, she was recruited to play at division I Temple University on a full ride scholarship. But before Gibson could enroll, the coach who sought her out, Matt Gwilliam, left his head coaching position. This stripped Gibson of her scholarship and potentially ended her future soccer career.
“I was pretty much back to square one,” Gibson said. “I was going to go to community college and try to get recruited to play again, but then Patrick Naughter picked me up.” She explained that Naughter, MSU Women’s head soccer coach, recruited her at the latest time possible during a senior year club game.
“I was relieved when Coach Naughter recruited me,” Gibson said. “It felt really good that I got picked up at such a late time because every other school I looked at was done with their recruiting for 2011.”
Gibson’s addition to Montclair State is one she and her teammates can both be thankful for. A recent NJAC rivalry game against TCNJ, who MSU lost to during the conference championship last season, nearly ended in a tie. But with twelve minutes left in the game Gibson triumphed to score the game-winning goal, something she has done quite often during her career. She connected off a feed from teammate Martina Landeka and Montclair State defeated TCNJ 1-0.
“At first I kind of blacked out,” Gibson said of the goal. “I didn’t really know what happened and then I thought, I just scored the biggest goal of my career.” She said the best feeling of scoring the goal was seeing the excitement that moment created for all her teammates.
Gibson is approaching her last NJAC tournament at Montclair State as there are only two regular season games left. She is currently faced with the nostalgic outlook many athletes endure as their career comes to a close. Gibson said she does not know if soccer will be in her future, which is a scary feeling for her, but she’s happy she spent her four years here with her 2015 classmates.
“We’ve really blossomed as a team,” she said. “You can see that from when we started to where we are now.”
It’s strange to think that Gibson’s college career could have told a completely different story, but despite bumps in the road, the history making athlete has no regrets.
“Looking back at it now, I’m really glad that I didn’t end up at Temple because I honestly don’t know if I would have fit in there,” Gibson stated. “I’m glad I came to MSU where I got to experience the road to becoming successful from freshmen year up until now.”
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