Habte loyal to the end

Four year starter Abbai Habte looks back on a playing career filled with difficulty and growth.


Cole Mayer

Abbai Habte saving the ball from going out of bounds in the first half of last Wednesday’s game against Carleton.

Jake Kjos, Reporter

As a first-year soccer player, Abbai Habte’s career started off the exact opposite of what he had wanted. Recruited from Central High School by Jon Lowery, Habte began his first season at Hamline as a starter, minus the coach that recruited him. Lowery left Hamline to coach the men’s soccer team at St. Thomas before Habte’s first season started.

Habte talked about what that first year was like and how the coaching change affected the team.

“Alex [Morawiecki] came in and I stuck around. It wasn’t the best season. We picked up guys that weren’t as dedicated. It was gonna be a growing process from the beginning,” Habte said.

Habte is a starter for a fourth consecutive year, and he credits his first year as one that helped him grow into the player that he is today.

“I got to play a lot, and I got to learn a lot. I was asked to perform in big game situations. It’s made me a better leader,” he said.

Head coach Alex Morawiecki has witnessed Habte’s development over the past four years and talked about what Habte learned early on.

“He’s been through a lot of ups and downs. It’s incredible to see how much things have changed from a program standpoint. He learned how to embrace challenge. He never backs down from it,” Morawiecki said.

Habte had the opportunity to go to a program that was considered more stable, but his willingness to embrace challenge as well as his loyalty made him decide to stay.

“I absolutely loved the school here. I made it my goal to make this program better. I’ve grown a lot through the adversities we’ve had to face,” Habte said.

After playing as an attacking midfielder for his first three years, Habte has flourished as a forward to lead the team in both goals and points.

Morawiecki has been more than happy with the position change.

“We probably should’ve done it earlier. We felt this year he was ready to lead from up top,” he said.

Not only has Habte enjoyed his best season in terms of points, but he believes that the progression of the team has lived up to what he expected.

“This year has meant a lot. It’s gone better than the last three years combined. We’ve put ourselves in position to possibly make the playoffs,” Habte said.

Sophomore defender Oscar Campbell is one teammate who has been impressed with Habte’s abilities as a player and leader.

“Abbai is one of the smartest players I’ve ever played with. He understands the game so well and does everything he can to help his teammates develop their knowledge. The best thing he’s shown me is how to compete, especially through adversity such as we faced last year,” Campbell said.

Competitiveness is one aspect of the game that both Habte and the team focus on.

“We have a phrase, always be hard to play against. The most important thing in a college match is to compete,” Habte said.

Morawiecki thinks that Habte has been successful in creating and maintaining that competitive atmosphere for the team.

“He’s helped to raise the level of expectation and competitiveness. What people don’t realize is the countless hours in the summer he takes to prepare,” Morawiecki said.

Campbell spoke about what Habte has meant to the soccer team and the way he will be remembered after this season.

“Abbai will hopefully be remembered as the player that turned the program around. He is the only fourth year senior on the team, and he is such an important part of what we are doing, both on the field and off,” Campbell said.

Habte talked about some of his favorite memories during his career as a Piper and a particular team that he liked to face.

“The St. Thomas games always stick out to me. There’s always a rivalry there. My freshman year we lost a close game, and the last two years I was lucky enough to score the game-winning goals,” Habte said.

With only four games remaining in the season, the team hopes that they will be able to make the playoffs and capitalize on Habte’s strong play to give him the season he stuck around for.