Soccer rides freshmen’s success on road to great beginning

No. 11 freshman Natalie Huggins works the ball up the field in a 2-0 win over North Texas on Sunday. Huggins has scored three goals in eight games, and the Bears’ freshmen have combined for eight of the team’s 18 goals.Matt Hellman | Lariat Photo Editor
No. 11 freshman Natalie Huggins works the ball up the field in a 2-0 win over North Texas on Sunday. Huggins has scored three goals in eight games, and the Bears’ freshmen have combined for eight of the team’s 18 goals.
Matt Hellman | Lariat Photo Editor

By Daniel Wallace
Sports Writer

Boasting seven freshmen out of 29 players, the class of 2015 is well represented on the Baylor soccer team.

The Bears are off to a 6-1-1 start entering conference play, and their freshmen have made significant contributions on the field. Three freshmen have combined to score eight of the team’s 18 total goals thus far.

The freshmen representatives on the team are defender Leah Aultman, goalkeeper Megan Grindstaff, forwards Justine Hovden, Natalie Huggins and Susan Summerville, and midfielders Anja Rosales and Alexa Wilde.

Not all freshmen have been given the opportunity to play in games but have still contributed to the team.

“Although Leah and Meagan have not gotten any games yet, they both have added some good depth in practices,” head coach Marci Jobson said. “I think they both are going to be promising players in the future, along with Susan Sommerville.”

Freshmen who have received significant playing time this year are Hovden, Huggins, Rosales and Wilde.

Justine Hovden, No. 20 F

This speedy forward hails from Lake Geneva, Wis., and has played in all eight games this season.

According to fellow forward sophomore Vic Hoffman, the things that make Hovden special on the field are her agility and accuracy.

“She does these moves that she gets past every single player and they work every single time,” she said. “You don’t know how she does it, but she always gets past them and they don’t even know what happened to them because she’s so fast.”

Junior midfielder Hannah Gilmore spoke of Hovden’s calm, cool and collected attitude. She added that she has been impressed by her “no fear” mentality and composure on the field, not letting the small things get her down.

The elementary education major has appeared in all eight games for the Bears, with two goals and an assist to her credit.

Natalie Huggins, No. 11 F

Huggins has started every game and has been directly involved in five goals this season, scoring three and assisting two. Jobson said what separates Huggins is her great speed up top and her ability to finish.

Gilmore said Huggins is one of the most in-shape people she has ever met, adding that she could run for days. Hoffman said she appreciates her speed and athleticism on the field and admires her strong work ethic.

“Natalie is like a little Energizer bunny because she never gets tired,” Hoffman said. “She’s also really fast and hard-working. It’s hard to take her off the field because she’s so hard-working.”

Huggins is from Dallas and is majoring in biochemistry.

Alexa Wilde, No. 26 MF

The Naperville, Ill., native pre-med major is energetic and lively and is a huge presence on the field, Gilmore said.

“She’s always trying to play a joke, but when it comes to soccer she’s really serious,” Gilmore said. “She has a swag to her that she just walks and believes in herself. She’s always looking for the ball.

Jobson has said that Wilde is already the team’s best player in the air; in seven games she has used her head to score three goals. Hoffman added Wilde’s real game is what makes her so dominant.

“Her head is like a magnet to the soccer ball,” she said. “Whenever you put her in set pieces, you can almost guarantee she’s going to get in the goal.”

Anja Rosales, No. 15 MF

Rosales’ teammates have been impressed by the way she has played her game and fulfilled her role this season. The San Antonio defender is majoring in geology and has appeared in four games.

“It’s really inspiring to watch her play her role and do so well,” Davis said.

Rosales’ toughness has been on display already this season as well. On Sunday, she collided with the University of North Texas goalkeeper and had to receive stitches near her eye as a result.

Hoffman had high praise for Rosales after the aggressiveness she displayed on Sunday.

“She wanted to get back on the field right after she got back from that black eye even though she had stitches and her eye was puffed up,” she said.

Jobson summed up the entire freshman class, saying what makes those players special is their willingness to work. That willingness has her excited for the future of the program.

“They are very hard-working kids,” she said. “I’m always a huge believer that if you work extremely hard no matter what your ability is, you are going to end up being in a pretty good place. I think this class is going to be always a very hard- working class.”