Any athlete can dream of making history, leaving a legacy and being remembered after they stop playing the game. They can wish and want their entire life, but for a player to actually achieve this level of excellence, it takes a whole lot more than just desire.
Hard work, dedication, ambition and not to mention an abundance of skill are all necessary characteristics for an athlete to even come close to such an accomplishment.
Senior and captain of the men’s soccer team Rob Santaniello, however, is no stranger to the extraordinary. As a sophomore, he broke the record for most goals scored in one season with 21, but one record wasn’t enough. Santaniello entered his final season at Ramapo ready to make history again, this time with the highest amount of total career goals.
Santaniello showed his drive for success early in his career, setting his sights on breaking the all-time record for career goals as a freshman. Right away, he looked to shatter Nansha Kolonji’s record of 52 goals.
“When I came for my first recruiting visit, the previous record holder was still on the coaching staff as an assistant,” Santaniello said. “And I told him I was going to break his record.”
Though he just graduated high school, Santaniello already was determined to become the best he could be. His defined his past three years of play by his motto: “If one doesn’t set a goal to be the best from the start, then I feel that they are just selling themselves short.”
The year that best represents Santaniello as a player was his sophomore year, when he not only broke the record for most goals scored in a season but also led the nation in goals, goals per game and points per game. When he was named an All-American that same year, it became obvious Santaniello was not to be underestimated, and that this Division-III athlete was ready to show the soccer world what he could do.
Coming into his final year at Ramapo, Santaniello remained just two goals shy of smashing the all-time goals record.
“I was excited, anxious, and upset all at the same time,” Santaniello said. “[I was] upset for the fact that I only needed two goals to break the record and I had the opportunity last season to score those two goals, but I didn’t capitalize on my chances.”
The disappointment he felt from missing the record his junior year followed him throughout the rest of the year. He would not let himself forget it.
“The record was on my mind from the moment the season ended last year up until the first game this year,” he said.
There was little doubt he would break the record within the first few games, but in which game would he score the highly anticipated goal? The moment finally arrived during their game against Randolph Macon, when Santaniello tied the record within the first two minutes of the game, chipping the ball into the goal from 40 yards away.
In the second half, he secured a spot in soccer history, scoring his 53rd career goal and gaining the title of highest scoring player in all of Ramapo men’s soccer. His first feeling after scoring was “a huge relief to finally have the record broken so I could concentrate on the rest of the season.”
After all the success Santaniello has had with soccer the big question is what will he do once he graduates.
His love of the game and his irrepressible drive to win has the senior thinking about a possible career in professional soccer leagues. If his soccer career doesn’t work out, the senior will use his degree in finance to find a position with a professional sports team.
Pursuing a career in soccer will be a challenge, but Santaniello’s passion for playing won’t let him give up the sport he loves.
“You are only young once, so I might as well try it out and see what happens. I don’t want to say ‘what if?