DeLuga ends soccer career in style

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Erika Marion, Assistant Sports Editor

The women’s soccer season might be over, but senior defender Payton DeLuga will be remembered as a top contributor from all areas of the field.

DeLuga hails from Algonquin, Illinois and attended Dundee Crown High School, where she was named the Fox Valley All-Conference player in soccer. Her play inspired her to compete at UW-Whitewater.

In 2015, she was named to the WIAC Scholastic Honor Roll and started in 25 matches. In 2016, DeLuga was named First Team All-WIAC. In 2017, she was named to the First Team United Soccer Coaches All-Region.

This season, DeLuga was selected as one of the All-WIAC Performers and was selected WIAC Women’s Soccer Scholar-Athlete. In order to be nominated for this award, a student-athlete must have a minimum 3.50 grade point average. DeLuga has a 3.803. She is the sixth UW-Whitewater women’s soccer player to earn the award in school history.

“Every year, we consistently had an awesome group of girls,” DeLuga said. “I wouldn’t trade my soccer career here for the world and am extremely grateful for my opportunity.”

The team’s season just ended in the WIAC semifinals against No. 23 UW-La Crosse. She put up 0.95 shots per game and 0.29 points per game in all 21 games. Since she  is a defender, it is more difficult to score goals.

However, DeLuga was one of the key players keeping the team in season due to her ability to stop opponents from getting close to scoring, helping UW-W finish tied for third in the WIAC in goals allowed with 1.43.

Head coach Ryan Quamme coached DeLuga for all of her four collegiate seasons, and noted his praise for the award-winning player.

“Payton has had an outstanding career as a Warhawk and has many team and individual accomplishments to be proud of,” Quamme said. “She has been an integral part of our back line over the last four years and a key contributor in our record-breaking seasons of 2015 and 2016.”

Throughout DeLuga’s collegiate career, she has been a part of a WIAC Championship in 2016, two WIAC Tournament title in 2015 and 2016, and got to the NCAA Elite 8 in 2015 and Sweet 16 in 2016.

Those accomplishments did not come easy for DeLuga and the rest of the team. But what made tensions ease for her was the opportunity to play on the field with her fellow Warhawks.

“There’s just something about putting on that uniform, taking the field, and playing your game that I will never be able to replace,” DeLuga said. “Warhawk soccer has given me life experiences I will reflect on with my future schooling and profession.”

DeLuga is majoring in communicative sciences and minoring in psychology.

Forward Kaci Schonert, DeLuga’s fellow senior teammate, talks about how great of a leader she is on and off the field.

“Payton embodies the meaning of being a collegiate athlete, being a competitor,” Schonert said. “I think that is Payton’s biggest attribute she brought to our team.”

DeLuga has shown that she is a true leader for everyone around her and an incredible athlete. Even though her collegiate soccer career has come to an end, she will be remembered as a huge impact to the Warhawk women’s soccer program.