"Put a soccer ball at her feet and Philo Robinson lights up
like a shining star for all to see and admire. Take the ball away
and Robinson wants to be plain ol' Philo, one of the girls, nothing
special. But it's not that easy, never has been."
- Jim Fennell, Keene Sentinel sportswriter, Nov. 2,1990
As much as Phil Robinson tried at times to avoid the soccer spotlight at Keene State, there's no getting around the fact that she was something special. And trying to find superlatives to match her play on the field was as difficult as trying to stop one her countless shots that so often found the back of the net. A former teammate and coach give it a try:
"Philo was phenomenal," said current KSC Coach Denise Lyons, a compatriot, former teammate, and friend. "She is a legend at Keene State."
"I always describe Philo as the most prolific scorer we ever had at Keene State," said Bert Poirier, who coached Robinson for three seasons. "And I'm including both men's and women's teams."
A member of the Keene State women's soccer team from 1988 to 1991, Robinson enters the Hail of Fame this evening as the Owls' all-time leading scorer, with 60 goals and 143 points. But there is much more to Robinson's induction than just her ability to put the ball in the net - that was the easy part.
A member of one of her country's top club teams and later selected to play on the Irish National team, Robinson, a Dublin native, learned about Keene State through Lyons. While her soccer credentials were never a question, Robinson, several years out of school, needed to pass the GED to gain admittance.
"She was not born with a silver spoon," said Poirier of Robinson, who had lost both her parents at a young age. "She had to work hard for everything she got."
Once on the soccer field, Robinson was able to do what she does best. Headers, breakaways, or in a congested crease with opponents draped over her, Robinson always found a way to score.
It's only appropriate that Robinson would score the biggest goal in the history of the program. Heading in a feed from Lyons, Robinson's tally was the difference in KSCs dramatic 1-0 upset over California-Dominguez Hills, which sent the Owls flying into the national championship game in 1989.
"Philo had an unbelievable sense of the game," said Lyons. "She was the Mia Hamm of Ireland."
A reluctant hero, Robinson always tried to deflect the adulation. "Goal scorers get the glory, (but) people forget there's 11 people out there," Robinson told Jim Fennell for his 1990 Sentinel story. "I'm not trying to score goals to break records or be known in 10 years, I'm doing it to win and only that."
A winner on and off the field, Robinson earned her degree in safety studies in 1992. "I'm more proud that she received her degree than of any of the records she Keene State," said fellow inductee Dave Lombardo, the Owls' former coach, whc recruited Robinson. "To me that's what athletics is all about, giving people the chance to be successful."