Women’s soccer team freshmen: decidedly California vibe
It’s not entirely accidental that six of the nine freshmen on this year’s women’s varsity soccer team hail from the Golden State. California has, after all, become a powerhouse in women’s soccer. The state’s temperate climate means players are able to compete year-round, not just in the fall. And some of the nation’s top high school coaches have migrated there in recent years.
“In New England, soccer players become basketball players or track runners in the winter, and they become multisport athletes. In California and other warm climates, they are more apt to specialize in one sport from an early age,” says head coach Nancy Feldman. Still, says Feldman, having so many freshmen on the team from one state is not by design. “Sometimes we wind up with a lot of players from the same area, but we never intend that.”
Feldman says that the recruiting path for women’s soccer has changed from the time when coaches and assistants spent brisk autumn afternoons on high school soccer fields. Today, they travel to events and tournaments among club teams—private league teams that play outside of the high school soccer season. “More of the better recent teams at these tournaments are from the California area,” Feldman says. “The events we’re going to have become popular with the area’s club teams, so we’re seeing Californians much more regularly.”
Kai Miller (ENG’15), from Carpinteria, played for her high school team in Santa Barbara and for the Real So Cal Soccer Club in San Fernando. She says her home state has become a hotbed for women’s soccer, largely because of top-notch coaching. “There are some great coaches in California, and they are the impetus behind these high-level programs,” Miller says. “Maybe they come out there for the warm weather, but whatever it is, they stay and build these really strong programs.”
The other California freshmen on the pitch this fall are Alejandra Diaz (SMG’15), from Fresno, Katherine Lim (SAR’15), from Piedmont, Jamie Turchi (CAS’15), from Santa Margarita, Taylor Krebs (CAS’15), from Dove Canyon, and Ali Parisi (CAS’15), from Camarillo.
“We’re all from different parts of California, so while I had heard of their club teams, I had not met them until I got here,” says Miller. “That’s how big soccer is in California—we can all be from these great programs, but still have never crossed paths beforehand.”
Krebs says that she and her California teammates “were able to come in with a good sense of how to play possession soccer. We understand how to see the field, and how to jump in with a quick play.”
“California players are thought to be more technical, taking more time with the ball and having better footwork,” says Feldman. “They also get labeled as a little less physical and more nuanced. But I don’t think that’s true or that it’s fair to say Californians are much more technical than New Englanders.”
Krebs agrees. “The good thing about our freshman class,” she says—and not just the women from California—“is that we have players from all over the field. We have backs, we have midfielders, we have forwards, so we’re a well-rounded class.”
The Terriers have had a strong showing so far this season (8-2-1). Feldman says her rookies are “a good group and have worked well with our older girls.” But while the team’s freshmen may have a decidedly West Coast flavor, it’s not a trend fans should expect to see in the near future. “We already have several players committed for the next few seasons, and most of them are from New England,” she says. “It goes in waves, and you just never know where the good players are going to be from each year.”
The Terriers play the University of Vermont tonight, Thursday, September 29, at 7 p.m., at Nickerson Field. Tickets are $5 for the general public and $2 for faculty, staff, and students and are available at the gate.
Kat Hasenauer Cornetta can be reached at email@example.com Comments