Pilot senior Sophie Schmidt takes her soccer skills north, helping Canada qualify for the women’s World Cup
By Kyle Cape, Staff Writer -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Senior Sophie Schmidt's legendary soccer status as one of UP's most successful and talented players to step onto Merlo Field didn't end with the women Pilots soccer team's heart-wrenching loss to Washington on Nov. 14.
Instead, the native of Abbotsford, British Columbia will be taking her talents abroad, playing for the Canadian National team in the 2011 woman's soccer World Cup in Germany June 26 through July 17. This was the first time a Canadian National team has succeeded in qualifying for the World Cup.
"It's always an honor playing for your country and being able to contribute as much as I did and be a big factor on this team made me really proud of myself and my accomplishments," Schmidt said. Schmidt has certainly accomplished a lot with the Canadians. She made her 50th appearance for the Canadian National team this year and was counted on for her defense and calming veteran presence.
"I really had to change my role from what I was used to at UP because (teammate) Christine Sinclair is one of the best players in the world, so obviously the team looked to her for scoring," Schmidt said. "I took a step back and focused on defense for the most part."
Schmidt's UP teammates recognize the amazing work Schmidt has put into soccer and also how far it will get her.
"Sophie is so talented and improves the play of everyone she plays with," freshman Micaela Capelle said. "She's a natural leader so it makes sense that she wants to represent her country and I'm proud of her for pursuing it and being so successful."
Schmidt started every game except one for the Canadians, and played a integral part in the Canadians winning the CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football) World Cup Qualifier going 5-0. Schmidt helped hold opponents Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Mexico and Costa Rica scoreless in Cancun, Mexico.
"International play is way more intense than college because these are professionals trying to make their livelihood, this is what they do," Schmidt said.
Schmidt mentioned playing for a new coach and getting comfortable with the National players was the biggest adjustment, but wasn't difficult.
"I've really established relationships with my teammates so it was just like getting back to playing with friends," Schmidt said. "(Head Coach) Carolina Morace is much more passionate about soccer and more verbal than what I'm used to with (UP Head Coach) Garrett Smith. We really focused on possession soccer and she'd let you hear it if you did something wrong or good."
Despite the strain of travel and playing multiple high pressure games in a short time period, Schmidt has no regrets about having to divide her time between two teams.
"It certainly made me better going into the NCAA Tournament, I was much more sharp both physically and mentally," Schmidt said. "I felt the atmosphere really contributed to that and got me prepared for what we were going to face."
Busy is an appropriate word to describe Schmidt, a life science major, as she not only had to balance her schoolwork with soccer but balance her career with the Pilots with her national team.
"I had a very light course load and teachers really gave me the peace of mind to focus on the Canadian team. I'm thankful that I could count on my UP teammates to handle business while I was gone and it shows how talented we were," Schmidt said.
Since her career as a Pilot has concluded, Schmidt said she "probably" plans to play professional soccer in Germany in the future, but, until then, will rest and prepare for the World Cup.
"Playing for my country is as much of my dream as playing for UP was and I'm just so thankful I get the opportunity to fulfill it this summer," Schmidt said.