Lizzy Raben, former U17 National Team CB, started as a Freshman for Duke in the ACC, and of course is a Rush Alum and W-League Player, recently took a few moments to share her thoughts about the college soccer search and transition into the college game.
When it comes to picking a school, find the right fit for you.
Everybody is looking for something different in a school, whether it’s location, style of play, academics, size, your role on the team, etc.
You need to consider the things that are most important to you and find the school that’s going to give you the best combination of what you want. Don’t feel pressure to attend a school because of reputation or because of its name. Look for what’s important to you and remember that it’s different for everybody, and that’s okay.
In terms of preparation, prepare diligently and rigorously during the summer, not only with fitness but also in the weight room. The weight room component is definitely something that I wish I would have taken a little more seriously. There’s nothing worse than coming into preseason feeling unprepared, so make sure you’re keeping up with your fitness and more importantly keeping up with your soccer. One way to do this is by looking for opportunities to play against bigger, stronger, faster players. Doing this is always going to improve your game, and this is especially true when trying to prepare for the college game.
One thing that was surprising for me was the quickness with which the season happens, along with the intensity at which it happens. Women’s soccer has one of the shortest preseasons in all of college sports, and so the pace at which you are asked to adapt and prepare for your season as a team is extremely fast and very demanding. The season is only a few months long, as opposed to the year-long season that you get in club, and so the season flies by. Enjoy it!!
One challenging aspect of the college game is certainly overall physicality. From competing in practice to playing in games, the soccer is extremely physical. It was certainly something that I had to get used to and something that I wasn’t quite expecting. Another challenge was adapting to a new system and to new players. Coming from club, especially one such as Rush, you’ve been playing with a particular group for several years where everyone has been trained in a particular brand of soccer and held to certain expectations. When you change teams, you will find yourself with a new set of expectations and a new group of players that has never played with you. This transition can be difficult. My advice is to learn from the older players, ask questions, and when in doubt, do what you know to be right. Another thing to help with this transition, one that I wish I would have been better at, is to remain open minded going into the season, as well as patient. Keeping an open mind to new systems, tactics, and styles of play is something that’s only going to improve your game as a player. Staying patient while learning and working through these challenges is equally important. Also, ask for help!
Remember that your team and coaches want you to succeed.
My first year in the college game presented me with challenges and experiences that have only helped me grow as a player, and have left me with memories that I’ll never forget. Though you are leaving something incredibly wonderful behind here at Rush, know that you have a lot to look forward to. The college game is what you make it, so make it great.