Lee's Shannon Finnegan Commits to AIC for Soccer
LEE, Mass. -- It did not take much time at all for Shannon Finnegan and the American International College women's soccer program to figure out they were right for one another.
But the journey that took the Lee High School senior to the Springfield school? That took much longer.
"Honestly, ever since I started playing soccer, since sixth grade maybe, I've always wanted to go to D2," Finnegan said Thursday after signing her National Letter of Intent to enroll at AIC in the fall. "We're from a small school. It doesn't happen often. And I just think it's amazing to get the opportunity to go DI, DII. And I'm really happy about the opportunity to go DII and make a name for myself, hopefully."
Still, the Yellow Jackets were not on Finnegan's radar until relatively late in the game, when she met AIC head coach Kevon Isa while she was playing in a tournament with her club team, Black Rock, in November.
"I hadn't reached out to AIC yet," she said. "And at that tournament, the coach was there. So I just went up and talked to him. He saw my next game, and he just wanted me there."
And in December, she made a verbal commitment to the NcAA Division II program, a promise that she sealed Thursday with her NLOI, which she signed in a brief ceremony in the school's gym -- one day later than originally scheduled thanks to Wednesday's snowstorm.
At AIC, she joins a program with five NCAA tournaments -- four in the last eight years. Most recently, the Yellow Jackets went to the NCAA DII East Region semi-finals in 2016, Isa's third at the helm at his alma mater.
Finnegan, who led Lee to the Western Massachusetts Division 4 quarter-finals last fall, said AIC and its coach are a good fit for her.
"I went to a ... clinic at AIC, and the coaching style that coach Isa has is very competitive, but he also has this side of him that is friendly, and you can really make connnections with him," she said.
"That's what brought me to make my final decision because I feel like it's a team that's close, and I need that because that's how my high school team was. I think the closeness helps teams get better and get further."
It was a decision that pleased her high school athletic director, Keith Thomson, an AIC graduate himself, and works out well for her parents: Lee boys basketball coach Tom Finnegan and girls soccer coach Lauren Finnegan.
"Being in Springfield, it's only 40 minutes away," said Shannon, who was awarded both academic and athletic scholarship money by American Internatinal. "My mom is my biggest supporter when it comes to soccer, so she's really happy that I'm going to be close.
"I think that's helpful for everyone."