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Oct, 2019

Internationals SC Alum Hannah Zaluski Leads the Way at GW

George Washington University defender Hannah Zaluski has made quite an impression in her first two seasons.  She has already started 29 games, logged 2,575 minutes, and registered one goal and two assists.  Plenty of people have taken notice as the Chagrin Falls, Ohio native was named to the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team last season.

GW women’s soccer head coach Michelle Demko has been impressed with Zaluski’s progress.

"Hannah is a great teammate and player for our program,” Demko said. “She embodies a true competitive spirit that challenges herself while pushing her teammates to become better in the process.  She is a second-year starter for us as a left back.  Hannah's ability to get forward off the run, pass or dribble makes her an incredibly dangerous player in system and our style of play. She has an innate willingness to do whatever it takes to help our team be successful in training as well as games.  Her engine never shuts off. She does a great job for us getting forward in attack with an immediate transition to defending for the duration of 90 minutes.  Hannah is very coachable as she is eager to continue to develop.  Off the field she is a highly committed successful student-athlete in the classroom that represents GW to the best of her ability."

Zaluski made the transition from the youth game to Division I soccer look easy.  She has come to really enjoy the challenge of playing at the highest level.

“So far, I have experienced a really competitive, intense level of play in college,” Zaluski said. “Not only are the players extremely fit, but each player possesses a high technical ability, a strong tactical understanding, and plays with physicality.”

In less than two years she has gained the reputation of as one of the top defenders in the conference, a player that can make an impact on both sides of the ball. 

“I would describe myself as an extremely technical and tactical player,” Zaluski remarked. “My approach to the game has always been to work extremely hard on my own and in trainings with competitiveness so that I can not only better myself, but also the players around me.  I look to push myself each day in order to continuously improve, which allows me to play my best at my preferred position, left back, by constantly attacking and defending at a high level, whether it is the first or last minute in a game.”

Playing for GW has been a good fit for Zaluski.  And she’s joined at GW by fellow ISC alum Haley Curtis, who is a freshman defender. 

“When looking for a school to play at, I knew I wanted a university with that valued academics as well as athletics,” Zaluski noted. “Not only is GW one of the best schools in the country, but the soccer team had a culture and philosophy that aligned with what I was looking for, making it a great fit.”

The focus on academics was important to Zaluski, who plans to attend law school after graduation.  She has become the epitome of a strong student-athlete, excelling on the pitch and in the classroom.

“Playing at GW has allowed me to experience what it is like to be a student-athlete,” Zaluski continued. “Being at a school that highly values academics, I have learned how to manage my time for my studies while also performing my best each day at practices and during games.  This experience has furthered my understanding about what it takes to be committed and determined in order to be successful.”

Becoming a strong student-athlete started years ago when she was part of Internationals SC. 

“While playing for Internationals SC, they really harbored the mentality of what it was like to train at the college level on and off the field,” Zaluski added. “The guidance from all coaches and the exposure we got at various tournaments and events helped me reach an extremely high level of play, making the transition to collegiate soccer seamless.”

When asked about a coach that influenced her the most in all of her years of playing soccer, Zaluski didn’t hesitate to call out the influence of Internationals SC founder and president Zdravko Popovic. 

“At my time at Internationals SC, Zdravko Popovic really influenced my soccer career,” Zaluski recounted. “His coaching methods prepared me for the college level very well and I truly believe no other youth coach would have helped me develop as a player as much as he did, and I am grateful I had the experience to play for his team.”

Popovic looked back at Zaluski’s time at Internationals SC with great fondness. 

“Hannah is a player I just loved to coach,” Popovic explained. “You could always count on her reliability and consistency with 100% effort and focus in training and games.  She was a dangerous attacking option for us through her technical ability, soccer awareness and competitive spirit.   We could also always count on her to put in the work defensively for 90+ minutes. During her time with the club, she set the standard for work-rate, training habits, and professionalism in her approach.   I am not at all surprised that she has been able to impact at the college level since day one.  She put a plan in place to prepare herself for this opportunity on and off the field and we are so happy for her and proud of her success at GW.”

Getting to play in a national league like the ECNL was also helpful in preparing for college.  It provided a high level of competition and plenty of opportunities to be seen by college coaches.

“The ECNL prepared me for college by providing great competition in the league and playoff games,” Zaluski concluded. “The high-level, competitive play from ECNL is superior to any other league I have played in and resembles what I experience in college soccer.  Also, the way we traveled to each game on a team bus together really prepared me for how it would be like on the road and travelling during college play.”

Simply put, Internationals SC gave Zaluski the perfect environment and set her on a path to success.  She hasn’t looked back and is now a Division I standout that is making a name for herself on and off the field. 

Photo Credit: George Washington University Athletics

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