When fifth-year defender Katie Coritz graduated from Paul VI High School in Clifton, Virginia, she believed her life after high school would pan out in New York City. She had her eyes set on playing Division I soccer at Columbia University for her entire collegiate career.
Coritz graduated from Columbia in 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience and behavior but played limited minutes for the Lions during the 2019 season because of her battle with infectious mononucleosis. When 2020 season canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic provided Coritz one more year of NCAA eligibility, she believed that teaming up at Temple with childhood friend and high school teammate junior midfielder Emily Kavanaugh was the best course of action.
Coritz has been a key part of a defensive back line that has produced three shutouts in the first seven games of the season. However, the team has yet to find offensive success, only scoring one goal. The Owls are currently 0-5-4, but the connection between Coritz and Kavanaugh is a bright spot for the team.
Coritz adjusted well to Philadelphia because of her connection with the area after visiting Kavanaugh. This familiarity was crucial to Coritz when deciding whether to commit to Temple or a local community college.
“I was lucky because I visited Emily at Temple before I considered coming here,” Coritz said. “I was already friends with some of the players, so it made the transition easier when I decided to come here. I also felt that I could connect with the newcomers since I was also a newcomer.”
Coritz has not been intimidated by the new environment because she is a sociable member of the team, easily able to assimilate to the culture, said head coach Nick Bochette.
“It’s tough when your whole college soccer career is spent elsewhere,” Bochette said. “When you come in and your peers already have their best friends.”
Although Coritz did not expect to attend Temple, the university provided her with the opportunity to continue both her athletic and academic careers.
“Emily was a big factor in convincing me to come here,” Coritz said. “The other half was needing prerequisite credits for physician assistant school, but I thought I might as well take my fifth year of eligibility and come to Temple to play soccer.”
Coritz and Kavanaugh have known each other since they were 12 years old when they played for F.C Virginia ECNL, a youth club, prior to becoming high school teammates.
“We were having tryouts together because our two clubs decided to merge into one,” Kavanaugh said.“We ended up splitting up and played for different clubs for a while, but on the first day of conditioning practice before our freshman year, we saw each other and recognized each other. She ended up being my first friend in high school.”
In April, Kavanaugh notified Bochette that her close friend was in the transfer portal. Once Coritz took her official visit to Temple, Kavanaugh was excited about the possibility of reuniting with her childhood friend.
With the Owls losing one of their top defenders last season in graduated defensive midfielder Marissa DiGenova, Kavanaugh knew that a defender like Coritz would be a perfect fit for the team because she sticks to the fundamentals and defends well in one-on-one situations.
Coritz played in all 16 games during her freshman campaign at Columbia, including four starts. She aided the Lions’ back line to five shutouts that season and one assist. Her sophomore season was limited to just two games because of her illness, leading to only playing in two games before COVID-19 canceled her remaining seasons.
In preparation for the season, the two practiced daily throughout the summer to get comfortable playing with each other again. Coritz and Kavanaugh worked on drills, practiced one-on-one situations and spent hours in the weight room.
The duo has shared the left side of the field this season, which helped produce two shutouts. With Coritz holding down the left side of the Owls’ defense, Kavanaugh feels more comfortable playing in front of her friend at left wing.
The duo looks to continue their defensive success, practice their offensive approach and battle through the physical adversity that comes along with conference play.
“She’s great technically and excellent in defending one-versus-one,” Kavanaugh said. “I thought she would be a good addition to our team. It is always great to know that she has my back.”
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