From college to Olympic dreams


A Gannon University alumna and women’s soccer standout, Justine Rodrigues, has made her school proud once again.
The former Knights’ midfielder, who started all four seasons during her time at Gannon from 2011 to 2014, stepped back into the limelight as her Guyana national team attempted to qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics located in Rio de Janeiro.
Rodrigues is from Georgetown, Ontario, but her Guyanese descent and her skills allow her to play on the national team.
She is no stranger to the national spotlight, having played for the Guyana national team since she was 16. Her team advanced through two qualifying rounds and had one more to tackle to reach the Olympic games, but came up short Tuesday night in Houston. As a result, Rodrigues’ Olympic dreams will have to wait at least another four years.
The path to the Olympic qualifying action began in August in the Dominican Republic. Rodrigues and her team defeated St. Kitts, 8-0, and tied Cuba, 1-1.
Guyana then headed for the second round in Trinidad and Tobago last November, and defeated Jamaica 2-1, to advance to the third round.
Rodrigues and her team are ranked 92nd globally and are recognized in the same group as other worldly talents such as 11th-ranked Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, ranked 48th, and 84th-ranked Guatemala.
The other group includes top-ranked United States, 26th-ranked Mexico, 34th-ranked Costa Rica and Puerto Rico.
Rodrigues and her team were in Houston and Dallas for an 11-day stretch at the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) qualifying round.
The top two teams will advance to the semifinals and the winners of the semis will qualify for the 12-team tournament at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.
Guyana lost to Canada, 5-0, in Thursday’s opening game in Houston but bounced back to beat Guatemala, 2-1, Sunday.
That put the Lady Jags into Tuesday’s match with Trinidad and Tobago, but they wound up on the short end of a 5-1 decision.
With the win, Trinidad and Tobago advances to Friday’s semifinals while Guyana was eliminated. The championship match will be played Sunday and will be televised on NBC Sports and Telemundo.
This isn’t Guyana’s first time sitting at the table of success; Rodrigues’ game-winning goal against Cuba enabled the team to reach the Gold Cup of the FIFA World Cup qualifying rounds.
Rodrigues has played against top-notch players, taking on Canadian stars Kara Lang and Christine Sinclair in the FIFA World Cup qualifying rounds.
In her career at Gannon, Rodrigues started 74 games and received many accolades. She was a three-time all-region selection, and she earned honors twice from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) and once from Daktronics.
Statistically speaking, the midfielder netted 20 goals, nine assists, 49 points and eight game–winning goals in her tenure at Gannon. In her senior season, she recorded nine goals and 19 points.
Rodrigues left her mark on Gannon’s stat book by ranking eighth all-time in career goals, ninth in career points and 15th in career assists.

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