Siblings leave their mark on Behrend soccer program

November 04, 2014

From birth, Olivia Belack has followed her big brother, Jimmy.

First they crawled. Then they walked. Then they played soccer.

Soccer has always been the favorite pastime for the siblings, who now both play for Penn State Behrend.

“It’s pretty much always been soccer for us. We both felt a knack for it,” said Jimmy, a senior defender, and an accounting and finance major at the campus.

The Pittsburgh natives’ commitment to the sport has paid off. It led Jimmy to Penn State Behrend where he has started all four seasons for the Lions, been a member of two Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference Championship (AMCC) teams and is the team’s all-time assists leader (28).

The best could be yet to come.

On Wednesday, Nov. 5, the Lions begin their pursuit of a third AMCC title in four years when they play Mount Aloysius in the AMCC Tournament semifinals. For Jimmy, a two-time All-AMCC selection who leads the team with 44 points, it’s an opportunity to end his collegiate career on a high note.

“It feels really nice to know that I have made an impact,” he said. “It would be pretty special to be able to win another title this year.”

Olivia is hot on her brother’s heels. A midfielder and first-year finance major, she leads the women’s team in points with 34.

On Nov. 1, when Penn State Behrend defeated La Roche 4-1 in the first round of the AMCC Tournament, Olivia scored the first goal to give the Lions a lead they never relinquished. The Lions will continue their postseason march Wednesday, Nov. 5, when they face Franciscan in the AMCC Tournament semifinals.

Her success mirrors Jimmy’s early experience with the Lions. As a freshman in 2011, he scored the game-winning goal in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Jimmy’s athletic achievements sparked Olivia’s interest in Behrend when she began researching colleges.

“He never pushed me toward Behrend, but he always supported me,” she said. “I knew I’d like it here.”

An added benefit for the two close-knit siblings is that the men’s and women’s teams travel to matches together, giving them an opportunity to watch and cheer one another at games.

It has also led to a friendly rivalry between the two.

“If I have a goal or two, (parents of soccer players) will then joke, ‘Jimmy has to score three now,’” Olivia said.

“My teammates will also look at me and say, ‘You can’t let her top you,’” Jimmy added.

This very scenario played itself out Sept. 27. Olivia recorded the first multi-goal game of her career, scoring twice to lead the Lions to a 2-1 win over Penn State Altoona. Later that day, Jimmy matched her performance in the men’s 5-0 win over Penn State Altoona.

The two said attending Penn State Behrend together was a great decision. It’s made it easier for their parents, Jeffrey and Kelly, to visit and attend games. Jimmy also played a big part in helping his sister get acclimated to her classes, coursework and the entire college experience.

“If I ever need anything, I just call him,” Olivia said. “Having Jimmy here definitely helped me, especially during the first few weeks.”

Olivia also now has the perfect example to follow as she gets set for three more seasons of collegiate soccer.

“It would be nice to be as successful as he was,” she said.

  • A senior defender on the Penn State Behrend men's soccer team, Jimmy Belack is the Lions' all-time assists leader (28).

    A senior defender on the Penn State Behrend men's soccer team, Jimmy Belack is the Lions' all-time assists leader (28) and leads the team with 44 points this season.

    IMAGE: Penn State Behrend
  • Freshman midfielder Olivia Belack has made an early impact on the Penn State Behrend women's soccer team.

    Freshman midfielder Olivia Belack has made an early impact on the Penn State Behrend women's soccer team as she leads the Lions with 34 points.

    IMAGE: Penn State Behrend
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Last Updated November 05, 2014