Ryan Flynn – Sports Editor –
As soon as she could walk, Suzane Pires learned how to kick a ball. Long before she was a star player for Southern women’s soccer, Pires was just another girl in Sao Paulo, Brazil with a soccer ball and a dream.
Pires called it her “first gift,” a skill set that led her from Brazil to Germany and eventually to the United States, where she would don an Owls jersey.
“She’s a true leader,” Southern women’s head soccer coach Adam Cohen said. “She’s an international student-athlete, coming from Brazil, and she speaks three languages. She’s extremely personable and she has extraordinary work rate.”
Pires was born and raised in Brazil, playing on her first organized team at seven years old. At thirteen, she had already been a part of a championship team before her family moved to Germany so her father could pursue a job offer.
“I wanted to play soccer and study but in both Brazil and Germany you can’t do both,” Pires said. “You have to decide between just studying or just playing because they don’t combine it like they do here. So, it was my dream since I was really young to actually come to the U.S. But, I never really thought this would happen.”
At 18 years of age, Pires had offers from colleges at both the Division I and Division II levels. With her father’s help, Pires said she looked for which college would be best for both soccer and school.
“There was one night and I just prayed. And I woke up and I was like well, I know that I should go to Southern,” Pires said. “It’s just something really weird, really. I woke up and I knew I wanted to come here.”
As a freshman, Pires contributed immediately for the Owls, starting all 17 games. She had two goals in her first year at Southern and six points.
“I think that my strength is being a technical player. I think that when I first came here my biggest weakness was fitness so like I worked really hard on that,” Pires said, mentioning that she is proud now to be one of best conditioned players on the team in this, her junior season.
Pires has found her niche as a business management major and has meshed with her teammates at Southern.
“Sue is one of the best players I’ve ever played with,” sophomore teammate Stephanie Santos said. “She’s extremely technical—a very technical player. She’s great on the ball, has great vision and all-around—she attacks, defends, does the whole thing. She’s very professional and more than anything she’s an awesome person. I’m really glad that I met her and that I’m playing with her.”
After being selected to the All-Conference team as a sophomore, Pires looks to have an even better year this year. The lefty worked on her technique in the offseason, especially kicking with her right leg.
“I think we’re a very good team,” she said. “I think that we [compliment] each other. And if we work hard on the field and work together—that’s the most important thing, that we work together—I think we could go pretty far this season with the roster we have.”
After two years on campus and on the roster, the Sao Paulo native is content right where she is.
“I’m very happy,” Pires said. “I definitely think this was the right choice.”