By Michael Haag | Sports Writer
Women’s soccer freshman defender Ava Colberg was inserted into the starting lineup the first game of the season, and has maintained that spot to this day. The team has thrived this year, outdoing expectations, and Colberg has been a big part of the backline that has been locking down opposing forwards.
“Yeah, I mean you got a freshman making big-time plays in big-time games,” head coach Paul Jobson said. “Every match she seems to step up to the next level, and you have to be proud of that for a young kid.”
For Colberg, being a first-year player hasn’t been an issue, as her integration into an experienced lineup has been seamless and stress-free.
Colberg has had no problem fitting into a team with people that are up to four years older than her. She said that she was scared going into it, but with such an accepting attitude from the entire team, Colberg found her footing.
“I was really nervous at first. Obviously terrified because I’m like walking in, I feel so young, but the team is super accepting, super sweet, so it honestly made the transition so easy from high school to college,” Colberg said. “I remember the first practice we had; all the older girls were coming up and talking to us and helping us through the drills, so that honestly helped with all that.”
On the flip side, playing against girls that are up to four years older than her was a big adjustment as well. The skill gap between Division I and high school is massive, and Colberg has had to adjust. However, veteran players like graduate student goalkeeper Jennifer Wandt and the rest of the backline have helped Colberg get acclimated.
“The competition is definitely a lot harder than it was in club soccer,” Colberg said. “I’d say the girls are just a lot faster and a lot better skilled. So that’s hard sometimes, just getting used to that and the play because the play is definitely faster. But our backline, they definitely help me a lot with positioning and what to do. Jen [Wandt] and the defenders, they’ve helped me keep up, so that helps.”
Colberg said she loves her coaching staff and how smooth the communication between the team and coaches flows.
“I thought it would be a lot harder to adjust, but the coaches, their coaching style works really well with me,” Colberg said. “I feel like I can easily understand them [when] they talk to us so that helps. Also, just the rest of the backline, their communication is great. [I] haven’t really had any major problems with connecting with everyone.”
Wandt has given credit to her backline many times. That praise has given Colberg and the rest of the backline the confidence to keep their motivation all season long.
“The support helps,” Colberg said. “I think even if I take a good touch, or if I do something good, Jen [Wandt] or other players in the back or just the whole team they’ll always say something like ‘good job, keep it up, good work,’ and that helps me a lot [to] stay motivated during the game.”
Colberg first started playing soccer when she was four years old. She was coached by her dad and said that he was a big part of how she fell in love with the sport. Colberg’s father was also her role model growing up.
“I definitely looked up to my dad,” Colberg said. “When I was [a] kid, him being my coach, I thought that was awesome and the coolest thing ever. Also, when I was nine, I joined an FC Dallas team, and my dad would help out with that team too, so I thought that was super cool. I always looked up to him because he has been a role model for me.”
Colberg said playing for Baylor was not a difficult decision for her, as she has family ties through her grandma and sister to the school. She knew throughout high school that Baylor was the place for her.
“In eighth grade, that’s when I really started thinking about colleges because everyone was looking at colleges,” Colberg said. “My grandma went here. My mom drove us through the campus, and I was like, ‘This is beautiful.’ I started looking at the college and it was just like this seems like the coolest college ever, this is perfect. It’s a Christian college, it’s Big 12 and I was like this is super cool. My sister actually went here. When I was a freshman [in high school], she was a freshman in college so, she went here and she loved it, had such great things to say about it. I was like, I just know this is where I want to be.”
Now being here and this far into the season, there are a few moments that stand out to her.
“One of the coolest moments was definitely the game when we were down 2-0, got a goal, came back and then the last second got that [penalty kick] … I don’t think we [have] ever been more hyped up [than] in that moment,” Colberg said. “Another good moment was when Haven [Terry] scored the Golden Goal. I was so excited because I told her before the game I was like ‘I’m telling you when you score, I’m going to get so hype,’ and I remember seeing her score and I was like, ‘No way’ and I just sprinted up and was like ‘This is crazy’ so those are probably top two for me.”
Colberg is excited to see what the rest of the year and her career has to showcase. Her main goal is to keep on winning.
“[I want] just to keep winning games,” Colberg said. “Honestly, we’ve been on a really good streak so far and [I’m] really hoping that we keep it up and I know we can. Just really excited to see where we go from here.”