Gen Gignac of Saint Leo University delivers a pass on the field in Saint Leo, Fla.

Saint Leo’s Gen Gignac determined to push game to next level

Ottawa midfielder set to lead Lions forward

SAINT LEO, Fla. – Gen Gignac is ready to do even more work for Saint Leo University.

The 20-year-old midfielder will be called upon to take charge for the Lions next season, as first-team All-Sunshine State Conference midfielder Saffron Jordan has returned to England’s Blackburn Ladies.

“(Saffron) was a good player,” she said. “She played a big role communicating on the team which was good so hopefully I can lead the team next year.”

Saint Leo soccer coach Ged O’Connor thinks Gignac will not have a problem assuming the role.

“Gen’s been a leader with her work rate on the field from day one,” he said. “She was a phenomenal player right from the start. One of the things we look for in players is consistency and she’s been nothing but consistent over the two years she’s been here.”

Diana Matheson is Gignac’s favorite player, and the Ottawa native patterns her game after the Canadian international star.

“I like that she’s always involved in the play,” said Gignac. “She’s also a short player, and obviously I’m short too, so that’s an inspiration.”

Playing in hockey and soccer leagues with boys growing up instilled Gignac with a determined, aggressive style of play that is evident to her teammates.

“She doesn’t stop. She’ll keep running, she won’t stop,” forward Arielle Kabangu said. “She keeps doing hard work and is someone you automatically look to for other types of soccer players. She’ll finish every run quick as she can and that’s someone you want on your side.”

Kabangu has been a teammate and opponent of Gignac since they were nine. Playing together for so long has given the two a unique chemistry.

“We’re one step ahead all the time,” Kabangu said. “When one of us is about to do something, the other knows what it is.”

Gignac wants to do her part to make sure the Canadian connection is even more potent next year.

“(Next year) I want to keep being determined and maybe get more fitness so I can run more, be more involved in the play, passing and moving and always stay a part of the play.”