Shannon Moss thrives on the soccer field. A senior tri-captain for the Staples girls soccer team, she's been one of its mainstays and starters for the past three years and hopes to play at the next level.

"I've been playing since kindergarten and I grew up playing it and loving the sport," Moss says. "I'm glad I had the opportunity to excel with all the coaching and opportunities that I had."

Staples made the state playoffs all four years Moss played and FCIACs the last three years.

"Shannon is a great all-around player," Lady Wreckers Coach Nikki Ross says. "She is a strong, physical player, shes good at distributing the ball, strong in the air and has a good vision of the field.

Growing up, Moss tried baseball before switching to softball, which she played briefly. After soccer, basketball was her second sport but gave it up after eighth grade to focus solely on soccer.

"I always liked soccer more than basketball," Moss says. "Basketball is more contained while in soccer, there's more space and I think it's more fun."

Moss made the varsity squad as a freshman and saw time as a backup while starting a few games. She showed a lot of positives when she was given a chance, which helped her earn a spot in the starting lineup sophomore year.

"It was really exciting making it freshman year," Moss recalls. "I didn't expect to play freshman year and I had more time to develop my skills by going up against older [and better] competition. It was more of a learning process to see where I fit."

Her focus on the pitch is mostly on defense, thus it was natural for her to become the starting stopper sophomore year. Being the strong and heady player Moss is, coupled with the experience she had at stopper while playing at the premier level, she met the challenges head-on and was a sturdy presence in the backfield.

"Since the stopper is in the middle of the field, the main idea is to stop the forward progress of the other team, win 50-50 balls, be good out of the box and make tackles."

Moss is physically strong, which enables her to thrive at stopper. Her strength gives her a powerful toe and as a result, she took many free kicks for the Lady Wreckers and helped them with her ability to clear.

"Being an athlete since I was 5, helped," Moss says. "I taught myself to be in shape and to stay aware. All the running and playing soccer also helped. We're an athletic family and I take pride in it."

Junior year, Moss was moved to outside midfield, a position that was new to her. The transition was challenging but she adjusted to it and made her presence felt.

"The outside midfield position is challenging because you run a lot and I had to get myself in shape for the position," Moss recalls. "It's harder to defend [from there] because you have to be in so many places at one time."

Possessing speed helped Moss make the transition successful.

Senior year, she became a starting center midfielder, a position she played for her premier teams. Moss played for Yankee United in sixth grade before switching to her current team, Beachside.

At center midfielder, Moss knew she had to focus on offense as well as defense. Although defense is her forte, she started to contributed on offense as well and even scored a couple of goals.

"I always look at myself as more of a defensive player, but from freshman year on, I worked on my offensive skills a lot," Moss says. "It's been a challenge but I've grown a lot."

On the key to her offensive success, she says, "I sort of trained myself to capitalize on my chances and to go forward. I tried to take advantage while in the offensive mentality and my teammates gave me good opportunities to capitalize on."

Defensive players normally don't receive the headlines offensive players do but that doesn't faze Moss.

"I always liked defense since I was young and I don't mind not getting the glory," she says. "It's a team effort and as long as we win, that's all the glory that we need."

Leadership is a strength of hers as well. Moss proved she was a leader by serving as captain and helped guide Staples to its best season in 15 years. For the most part, she leads by example through her work ethic off the field and on the field, she leads both by example and verbally.

"It was such an honor because there were so many good players in our class who weren't captain, Nikki Brill and Julie Strickland, before she got hurt, were big parts of the team," Moss says. "Also, I played in the middle of the field, which forces me to lead the team because I'm in the middle of the action."

Ross says, "Shannon is a vocal player on and off the field and would lead by example. Her teammates looked up to her and would go to her for the push they needed."

Academically, she takes AP literature and AP U.S. History. Art class is her favorite subject.

"Even though soccer takes up a lot of time, I still find time to do my work," Moss said. "You have to find time for everything."

Although she made her presence felt and many people felt she deserved at least All-FCIAC Honorable Mention, she received no postseason honors. Moss remains undaunted by this slight.

"I'm more about team accomplishments instead of individual accomplishments and it doesn't bother me," Moss says.

She's currently playing indoor soccer for Beachside and will play for Beachside's outdoor team this spring. Although the FCIAC overlooked her, colleges recognize she could help their teams and will be trying out for Rollins College in Florida and Emerson College in Boston. If she attends Rollins, she will see her brother Grant frequently, who is a freshman and plays baseball there.

Wherever she goes, she hopes to major in studio art or English. Whether she goes to Rollins, Emerson or another school, Moss knows she needs to raise her level of play because the competition will be tougher. She's determined to make it.

"I just have to keep doing what I'm doing and develop my skills," Moss says. "I developed a lot in high school and I know college soccer is a lot more intense, so I have to stay with the workout and see how it goes."

Ross is confident Moss will make it.

"Watching Shannon grow just in this one year definitely shows me that will be ready to play at the collegiate level," Ross says. "She will have to make quick decisions and step up her pace of play but she proved her ability to do so, especially towards the end of the season. I think she will be a great asset where ever she ends up."