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Maria (Ciaravino) Palacio is this week's alumna feature as part of the...
Courtesy: Charlotte Sports Information
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Celebrating 20 seasons of women’s soccer history

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Each Tuesday through the women’s soccer season, will feature alumnae of the program in celebration of the program’s 20th campaign in 2013. Former players were selected at random for the Q&A and the plan was to include all eras of the program, dating back to its inception in 1994.

This week’s edition features Maria (Ciaravino) Palacio (1994-95, ’97). Ciaravino, a Boca Raton, Fla., native, not only was a member of the school’s first team in 1994 but also a member of the first recruiting class that signed April 24, 1994. She played her entire career for Robbie Church. She started 36 of the 47 games in which she played despite injuries. She netted five goals and six assists for 16 points. One of her goals was a game winner, while she also added 46 shots.

Ciaravino was tabbed to the All-Conference USA Second Team in 1995, the first season of league competition. She received all-tournament honors during the 1994 UNC Asheville Puma/Subway Classic and the 1997 UNC Charlotte Puma Classic, including being selected as the defensive MVP.

1. What factors led to your decision to attend Charlotte?
Robbie Church! An unexpected meeting with Robbie Church while visiting another North Carolina campus. I guess it was meant to be.

2. How did you see yourself grow as a soccer player and as a person during your collegiate career?

From a scared introverted freshman to SANTA MARIA. (inside joke)

3. What are some of your fondest memories of playing soccer with the 49ers?
-- Home games on the old field (before Transamerica Field).
-- After big rain storms if the bridge flooded we played indoor soccer in the gym.
-- 6am practices-running through the never ending forest.
-- The love hate relationship with preseason three-a-days practices for three-hours long (before NCAA restrictions).
-- Free Dominos pizza after every single soccer game. 
-- Big Bear (Jonathan Norman) updating us on all of our stats. We were like…what?! All we want to do is play soccer. You all are keeping stats on us? This must be big time!
-- Before strength and conditioning coaches existed at UNC Charlotte watching Robbie Church lifting weights with us using bizarre techniques.
-- ST almost wreaking the van!!!!! And everybody made fun of ME for being the only one wearing a seat belt. 
-- All the hours spent in the training room. 
-- Halftime speeches. I will not go into detail on this one.
-- Celebrating off the field after wins. Okay and losses.    
-- And…going through college with my best friend, Dana Erato #11 yea, yea.

4. How often do you play soccer these days?
Everyday. I dribble around the house with my son Cristiano every day. 

5. Where are you currently living (city, state)?
Charlotte, North Carolina. I never left! Go Niners!

6. What is your current occupation?
I’m employed with Kannapolis City Schools. I teach first graders! They love school and work for stickers.

7. Do you have any family (husband/kids/pets)?
Jose’ and I have been married for 13 years now. We have a one-year-old son named Cristiano. Yes, he was named after the best soccer player in the world- Cristiano Ronaldo (CR7) Real Madrid FC!!!!!! Oh yes, I forgot…a red slider turtle named Frankie.

8. What advice would you offer to a current 49ers women’s soccer player?
Take it all in. Appreciate every day because one day you will be like me- filling out a questionnaire 20 years later thinking about the glory days.
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