In three years, Alyssa Kirk went from walk-on to Seamus O’Connor’s scholarship captain.
“She deserves a lot of credit,” O’Connor, the team’s second year coach, said.
Since Kirk’s inaugural season, there has been a lot of change.
There have been new players, new coaches and even new opponents. However, the team’s lone constant has relied on senior Alyssa Kirk’s presence on the field.
During her career in a Temple shirt, Kirk has played all over the field. From striker to center back, she has played every position aside from goalkeeper for the Owls.
Amid the first three games of Temple’s season, games in which the Owls have won by a combined margin of 6-0, Kirk has demonstrated how valuable her versatility is to the team. She’s shown some offensive firepower, recording a goal and an assist, as well as some defensive prowess helping anchor a defensive unit that has yet to concede a goal.
While her ability to play numerous positions is certainly an asset to the team, Kirk said she feels comfortable settling into the outside back position this season.
“Last season, I thought I had found my niche at striker,” Kirk said. “I scored a few goals and did alright, but when I finally got put back at outside back, I felt at home. This season I think I’ll stick mostly to outside back, and I’m really glad I finally have one solid position where I can work as hard as possible to focus on being the best there. I really like it there because I can be a threat on the attack, as well as utilize my one versus one defending skills.”
As the only senior and the most experienced player on the team, the Langhorne, Pennsylvania native said she feels some added pressure to give the team guidance and direction. However, she does not go out of her way to fulfill her role. She said her expectations for herself remain the same: be a smart player on the field and help her team win games.
Junior goalkeeper Shauni Kerkhoff, who has teamed with Kirk on the Owls’ backline to post three shutouts already this season, has admired Kirk’s ability to take charge.
“[Kirk] is a fantastic leader,” Kerkhoff said. “She brings so much to the team. She brings experience and she is a fantastic athlete. She definitely leads more by example and is a great leader on and off the field.”
O’Connor has watched first hand as Kirk matured into this leadership role. Although he is entering just his second season as head coach, O’Connor has been part of the coaching staff all four years Kirk has been with the program.
He said he’s seen her steadily evolve as a player and find her place at outside back with the team.
“She has a lot of experience being here for four years and she’s seen how much the program has changed over those four years,” O’Connor said.
While Kirk’s play and leadership on the field have provided an example for her team, she said she feels her work in the classroom can be just as beneficial to her younger teammates. Kirk, a nursing major, was named to the Temple Director’s Honor Roll.
“I certainly feel the need to convey the importance of academics to the underclassmen,” Kirk said. “I am a nursing major and place extreme importance in my grades and becoming a great nurse. Essentially, academics is the most important thing and I encourage underclassmen not to underestimate its importance.”
In her senior season with the Owls, Kirk said she’s ready to leave a mark on the women’s soccer program.
Kirk has seen a change in the mindset of her teammates during her time spent with the Owls that makes her think the 2014 squad is poised for success.
“There are so many things that have changed for the better since I came to Temple as a freshman,” Kirk said. “To put it simply, we are just so much better. There is a completely new mindset on this team. We are really proud to be from Temple, and every single person who is a part of our program gears everything we do towards success.”
Owen McCue can be reached at email@example.com and on twitter @ItsBigO