In soccer, you can’t win if you can’t score. You can’t score if you don’t shoot.
And freshman forward/midfielder Niki Conn does both very well for the women’s soccer team.
The first-year player has started 12 of the Owls’ 15 games this season. The opportunity to play has allowed Conn to lead the team in shots, and this has resulted in her leading the team with four goals.
That amount of playing time has translated to a successful start for the former Most Valuable Player of Cardinal O’Hara High School.
However, Conn knows the game is not the same now that she’s wearing cherry and white.
“College soccer is different from high school because the speed of play and the players are much more talented,” she said. “College players know the game much more than any high school player.”
Conn was also impressive in high school.
A four-year All-Catholic First Team selection, she led her team to a first place finish in the Southern Division in 2007 and was named MVP of both the Catholic Southern League and her O’Hara team.
That kind of success caught the eye of Temple, and with Manhattan College and West Chester also inquiring, Conn’s decision to come to North Broad Street ended up being one based on proximity.
“I chose Temple because the school is not far or too close to my house,” she said, “and the soccer team was the kind of people who I wanted to play with.”
Conn played for the PSC Coppa Club team with several current Owls.
In September, the Morton, Pa., native was named the Atlantic Ten Conference Rookie of the Week after a two-goal performance against St. Peter’s on Sept. 12. The two goals gave the team its first win of the season. She also added a game-winning assist against Vermont two days later.
But Conn doesn’t take all the credit for the achievement.
“Being named [A-10] Rookie of the Week is an awesome feeling, but not one person does everything on a team,” she said. “The team is the one getting me the ball, and they are responsible for me being named Rookie of the Week.”
Conn gives her coach, David Jones, credit as well.
“He knows what he is talking about, and when [the team] understands what he is teaching us, we play a pretty good game of soccer,” she said.
Unfortunately for the Owls, that hasn’t happened all that often, as the team is currently 2-9-4 overall and 0-4-3 in conference.
“The season is not going very well because we’re struggling to score,” Conn said. “We either lose 1-0 or tie, but as a team, I think we can all come together and work well together.”
That has turned the end of the season into must-win territory for Conn and the Owls.
“We really need to win these last four games so we don’t get down for next season,” Conn said. “We realize this team can win and can be in the top of our conference.”
Joe Serpico can be reached at email@example.com.