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Lady Tiger ready for D1 challenge at SFU

Rita Kendziora

Hollidaysburg senior Rita Kendziora is used to overcoming the odds.

She helped the Lady Tigers soccer team win four district titles and scored 54 goals while contributing 40 assists over her four-year high school career, and now she’s ready for an even bigger stage.

Kendziora recently committed to play Division I women’s soccer at Saint Francis.

“I am extremely excited,” Kendziora said. “I’m ready to push myself. Being 4 feet, 11 inches, I have had many people tell me that I am too short. I am excited to push myself and prove to everyone that I can do this and that I will keep fighting and that I’m going to figure it out with the help of my teammates and my new coaches at Saint Francis. I’m ready for this new challenge.”

Kendziora was named to the Altoona Mirror girls soccer all-star team in each of the past three seasons, making the first team twice and second team once.

“Over the last four years, she’s really grown as a player,” Hollidaysburg girls soccer coach Dave Soellner said. “Every year, she’s gotten better. I think her best soccer is yet to come, and it’s nice that it’s going to be at Saint Francis so that she can have a home crowd there to watch her grow.

“She did a lot for us. She created a lot of positive situations for us in the games.”

Kendziora also cited proximity to home as something that drew her to SFU.

“I picked Saint Francis, because I love the coaches there and I love that they see me for the player that I am and the player that I can become,” Kendziora said. “I also love the team and the chemistry the team has. It’s close to home, and it’s a place that I’m not home, but I can still get home and spend time with family when I want.”

The Hollidaysburg senior also has family ties to the school.

“Rita is a fast forward that likes taking players on one-on-one, and she can play on either side of the field,” Saint Francis women’s soccer coach Ellie Davis said. “Her parents both graduated from SFU, and her father (Thomas) played soccer for the men’s team, so she has strong ties to the school and athletic department. We are happy to have her carry on the family tradition.”

Kendziora will be the smallest player on Saint Francis’ roster next season, but that hasn’t stopped her from success among the top of her peers in the past.

She has played with Beadling, an elite soccer club based out of Pittsburgh, since 2017.

“I have been playing with Beadling for four or five years now, and they have taught me how to be a stronger player and how to fight and never give up,” Kendziora said. “It has not been easy, but it has taught me to keep fighting for my position and that with patience and time, my coaches have taught me that with hard work, everything will work out. I have made so many friends, and my coaches have helped me so much in the recruiting process and helped push me to be a better player and the player I want to be at Saint Francis.”

Kendziora is hoping to form the same type of bond with her college teammates that she developed growing up in Hollidaysburg.

“My best memories from playing at Hollidaysburg are getting to play with girls I have played with since I was 5,” Kendziora said. “Our senior class, we started when we were little, and I’ll never forget those girls. We learned to love the sport together.”

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