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Eden O’Leary opens on challenges international student-athletes face

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>For international students, the prospect of leaving home to study in the United States is one that kindles both feelings of excitement and anxiety. The opportunity to receive a well-rounded college education plants the ideas of what these young adults’ futures could be, but the potential language barrier and separation from the familiar sites and faces of home make it one to grab with skepticism. International student-athletes not only juggle these thoughts when considering this life-changing decision, but they must also weigh in the added pressure of needing to excel in their respective sport. Eden O’Leary’s decision to take this leap of faith and leave behind everything he knew in Israel for the chance to play soccer and pursue a degree at Seton Hall was one that took all these factors into consideration. [caption id="attachment_28823" align="aligncenter" width="838"] Photo via SHU Athletics[/caption] “The United States is the only place where you can combine academics and playing sports at the highest level,” O’Leary said. “In Israel you can’t do that. Before I came here, I was talking to the coaches and Jeff [Matteo] actually came to Israel to visit me. We had a really good talk, and I talked to Andreas [Lindberg] over the phone. I asked him a million questions, he could tell you, because I needed to know everything. I spoke to Carlton [McKenzie] also because I wanted to know what exactly I was coming into because I was leaving all my life back [in Israel]. It all sounded worth it to leave everything and come here.” O’Leary’s journey to Seton Hall in general was one of unusual circumstances, even for an international student. After finishing high school, he enlisted in the Israeli army to complete his compulsory military service of two years and eight months. His status as a professional player in the second and third divisions of Israeli soccer provided him a bit more leeway with how he fulfilled his service requirement, but he was put through the trials and tribulations of military training just like every other young adult in Israel. “Because I played soccer, I didn’t actually have time to be a soldier on the field,” O’Leary said. “At the beginning, everyone goes away for two months to the base and they carry a gun just like preparation for the army. My role wasn’t that important. I was always with computers and stuff that was important, but I wasn’t an actual soldier.” By the end of his service, O’Leary had already decided he wanted to move to the United States for a college education. As a 23-year-old freshman coming into the Seton Hall program, though, the distance from home and language barriers were just the beginning of the hurdles he would have to jump in his first year with the Pirates. Though he loves to be around the younger members in his freshman class, O’Leary finds it easier to connect with the upperclassmen of the team instead. His housemates – about seven other international students – have, however, provided him with a second family to overcome the difficulty of being away from home. “At least for myself, I came here not knowing anyone,” O’Leary said. “I spent all the time with my teammates during preseason, during meals and throughout training. All the time. It was weird throwing yourself into a team where you don’t know anyone or the language but are forced to make those relationships quickly. Between ourselves, in terms of our friendship within the team, everybody loves everybody, and I feel like a part of the team.” As the end of the 2019 season approaches, O’Leary’s move seems to have been well worth the risk. He is the only freshman to surpass 1,000 minutes of action and has solidified his position within the heart of Lindberg’s midfield. His form at the beginning of the season was admittedly off-key, but his recent performances against St. John’s and Army West Point exemplified why he has consistently been in the starting lineup. It has been a rather unorthodox ride for O’Leary to land in Seton Hall all the way from Israel, but one he shows very little regret in taking. The opportunity has put him outside of his comfort zone and forced him to develop both on and off the soccer field as a person. Alongside his fellow international student-athletes and the domestic soccer team members, O’Leary has progressively adjusted to the lifestyle of his next three-and-a-half years in the U.S. Justin Sousa can be reached at Find him on Twitter @JustinSousa99.


Pirates fall to Xavier despite stellar performance from McKenzie

The road woes for Seton Hall’s men’s soccer team continued tonight as the Pirates fell to Xavier 2-1. Carlton McKenzie provided the only goal of the night with a spectacular shot in the 69th minute and the Pirates had numerous other chances throughout the game but it wasn’t enough to surpass the Musketeers. The loss is the second in a row for the Pirates following a 4-0 setback to Butler on October 19 and continues the road struggles the team has experienced this season. Seton Hall is 1-6 away from South Orange and 4-1 at home.


Seton Hall defeats NJIT on road to curb slump

The struggling Seton Hall men’s soccer team knocked off the NJIT Highlanders, 4-1, on Tuesday night in Newark. The team hopes the win serves as a catalyst for Andreas Lindberg’s side. With the victory, the Pirates improve to 2-4-0 on the season.


Women’s soccer excited to return to Owen T. Carroll Field

Stretching back to last season, the Seton Hall women’s soccer team has gone nine straight games without playing a match at Owen T. Carroll Field. Last season’s final two matches were both away games against Providence and Marquette, while this summer’s field renovations prevented the Pirates from hosting any non-conference games. Despite these early season obstacles, head coach Ciara Crinion feels the time spent on the road has allowed to bond and cultivate the proper locker room culture she wanted coming into the position.


Men’s Soccer must find more ways to score

Conference rivalries kick off across the Big East on Friday night, with Seton Hall hitting the road for a meeting with Providence. The Pirates’ four tune-up games have yielded a mixed bag in terms of both results and statistical analysis, but the numbers on offer provide hints at what the team can accomplish under second-year head coach Andreas Lindberg.


Johannsdottir finding footing with women’s soccer

In Sept. 2, Seton Hall women’s soccer’s goalkeeper Harpa Johannsdottir was named the Big East Freshman of the Week. She received the honor alongside Offensive Player of the Week Macy Miller of Georgetown, Defensive Player of the Week Meaghan Nally of Georgetown and Goalkeeper of the Week Maddy Henry of Marquette.


Pirates fall to Leigh for third straight loss

The Seton Hall men’s soccer team continued its road trip on Saturday as they travelled to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to take on Lehigh. The game resulted in a 1-0 loss for the Pirates, and the defeat puts Seton Hall at a 1-3 record overall and extends its losing streak to three games.


Siena squeeze by Pirates

The Seton Hall women’s soccer team dropped a close score, 2-1, to Siena on Thursday to drop the team’s record to 1-3 on the year. The loss comes after losing the previous match, 1-0, against Long Island University. In the first three games of the season, the Pirates have scored the same number of goals that took six games last year.


Elias ready to help mold changing Pirates

Despite it being Seton Hall men’s soccer captain Stephen Elias’ first season on campus as a graduate student, his roots with the school are far entrenched within his soccer history.

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