Athlete of the Week: Nicte Machado Aco ’23

Swarthmore Athletics

Nicte Machado Aco ’23, a senior from Lancaster, PA, scored the game winning goal in the Swarthmore women’s soccer match against #24 Franklin and Marshall College on Saturday, Oct. 15. Machado Aco placed the ball in the bottom right corner of the net in the 42nd minute and then helped the Garnet hold off the Diplomats’ attempts during the rest of the game. She recently switched positions in her senior season from a defender to a forward, and her first career goal could not have come at a better time. The win put Swarthmore in second place in the Centennial Conference for the remaining couple of weeks of the regular season. 

Abby Chang: How do you feel about your own performance and the team’s performance at the game on Saturday night?          

Nicte Machado Aco: I feel that we all battled through to the last second of the game, and we played with a lot of urgency. We never hung our heads over mistakes and kept our momentum going once we got into a good rhythm.

AC: With a current 11-2-1 record, can you speak to the team’s incredible success thus far?

NM: I think a major component to our success this season is that we’ve all bought into the team culture; [we] have been playing with joy and for each other in every game. Everyone on the team is extremely close off of the field this year, and it has positively impacted our chemistry and play on the field.

AC: What has been a highlight of the season for you?

NM: A highlight for me has definitely been scoring against F&M this past weekend. This is my first season as a center forward, and the team has been so supportive and encouraging. It felt incredible to celebrate the goal with them; it brought me so much joy.

AC: Do you have any pre- or post-game rituals?

NM: Pre-game I have certain songs I like to listen to in my headphones to get in the zone before joining in on the singing and dance circles in the team locker room. Also, my teammate, Jacinta (Fernandes-Brough), and I have a pre-game ritual where we stand next to each other during the team huddle and do foot taps. It’s become a superstition. 

AC: Why did you choose Swarthmore?

NM: I was actually technically a walk-on on the soccer team, so I initially chose Swarthmore because of its amazing academics. I was, however, heavily motivated to attend Swat after meeting the incoming recruits during SwatStruck because they made me feel super welcome. It also helped that my teammate, Alice (Onyango-Opiyo), and I played on the same club team in high school, so I was already close to someone going into my first semester/season at Swat.

AC: What is your major and why?

NM: I am a biology and Spanish double major. I loved my biology classes all throughout high school and knew that it was a subject I wanted to keep pursuing — plus it lined up nicely with my pre-med requirements. I also knew I wanted to major in Spanish, not only because I am a native speaker, but because there’s so much to learn and celebrate about Hispanic/Latinx history and culture.

AC: What is your favorite class that you’ve taken at Swarthmore?

NM: I’m torn between Animal Physiology with Professor (Carolyn) Bauer and Memoria e Identidad with Professor (María-Luisa) Guardiola. Being two completely different classes, both were extremely rewarding in different ways. Physiology has always been my favorite topic of biology, while Memoria e Identidad led me to reflect on the importance of memory as a historical agent that uplifts the voice of those oppressed, especially in cultures like my own. 

AC: Do you have any other interests outside of soccer?

NM: I don’t tend to have a lot of free time outside of soccer and academics, but I do really enjoy cooking, drawing, and hanging out with the trainers in the annex when I have time.

Disclosure: The writer of this article is also a member of the women’s soccer team.

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