For Glastonbury High School senior Mackenzie Landers, choosing a college within driving distance of home was important.
Landers ultimately decided that Stonehill College in Massachusetts was the ideal location to continue to play soccer and further her education.
Upon making her decision, Landers stated, “Thank you to all my coaches, teammates, friends, and family for their support.”
Family was one of the main reasons that Landers kept her search closer to home.
Her older sister, Chloe Landers, will be entering her senior season at The University of Connecticut next fall, and her twin sister, Kelsey Landers, has committed to play at Iona College in New York.
With Mackenzie heading to The Bay State, the Landers sisters have created a collegiate soccer triangle across the upper part of the Eastern Seaboard.
“Stonehill was the best fit for me. I loved the atmosphere and I loved the location. The program is outstanding too,” said Landers. “Knowing my parents could make it to my games played a huge role and hopefully I can go support my sister when they have a game as well.”
Landers will be joining a soccer program at Stonehill College that is on the ground level of something special.
Last year, the program transitioned from Division II to a Division I.
After struggling through the first part of the season, the Skyhawks showed signs of a program on the rise by winning their final three games to wrap up their initial season at the highest level of collegiate athletics.
Landers is excited to be part of the building process at Stonehill, calling it “a great learning experience”
“I liked that competitiveness and the fight in the program,” added Landers.
Landers is used to the competition, having played over a dozen years of competitive soccer through the local youth ranks and into high school.
She began her youth soccer days at Hartwell Soccer Club being coached by her mother, Amy Landers, and played her final two high school seasons being coached by her father, Mark Landers.
Landers called the support of both of her parents “amazing” and said they were extremely supportive throughout her college search.
“Her understanding of the game has certainly developed along with her technical skills,” said Mark Landers. “Defensively she anticipates well and her passing ability has improved tremendously.”
Mark Landers added that it will be special to have all three of his daughters now playing college soccer.
For Mackenzie, she said soccer was a sport that she “grew to love.”
Landers — who has also played club soccer at Oakwood Soccer Club, along with Connecticut Football Club (CFC) and Premier Soccer at Farmington Sports Arena (FSA) — said the more soccer she played, the more she liked the sport.
“Growing up with soccer and having my sister who is three years older made it a little better and maybe a little easier because I had someone to look up to and lean on,” added Landers.
“Now [soccer] means so much to me; I get to be with people that love the same sport. I also love how much it has helped me grow and how much it can change you as a person.”
This past season at GHS, Landers helped the Guardians win a Central Connecticut Conference (CCC) title and reach the semifinals of the Class LL state tourney. Her efforts on the field earned her All-CCC recognition.
She said one of her favorite aspects of this past season was mentoring the younger players with her fellow seniors.
“Building those relationships has been especially amazing. We had such a special bond that was so strong,” added Landers.
“It didn’t take a long time to get our freshmen to learn the whole culture and how we do things around here. I think that is what got us really far.”
After serving as a senior mentor, Lander will soon be assuming the role of a freshman again when she joins a Stonehill program guided by head coach Alex Wilson. Wilson was a standout goalie for the school before serving as an assistant coach and taking over the head coaching duties in 2013.
Landers, who is undecided on a major but has a passion for helping people less fortunate, called going to Stonehill “a new start.”
“I’m excited to grow as a person and meet new people and see how much I can learn,” added Landers.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin