Entering the 2012 season as the only sophomore on the women’s soccer roster, defender Alyssa Kirk is continuing to adjust to a role that she has been unfamiliar with in previous years.
After a freshman year in which Kirk was used primarily as a defender, coach Matt Gwilliam said that he has been experimenting with Kirk at different positions as she is now adapting to a role as a utility player for the team.
“[Kirk] is learning the game,” Gwilliam said. “She was one of the only freshmen here when the new coaching staff took over and [Kirk] is a big part of the learning curve and what we are trying to do here.”
While at Neshaminy High School, Kirk earned a number of awards, including the “Ms. Defense” award for three straight years, from 2009–2011. Along with being the team captain her senior year in 2011, Kirk was known primarily for her defensive game while in high school.
“I was a good defender in high school and winning awards gave me confidence,” Kirk said. “I was also able to score goals in high school and coach Gwilliam saw that other side of me.”
Beginning the 2012 season, Kirk believed she was going to be used as a defensive player. After 16 games this season, Kirk has found her role on the team as more of an offensive player.
“Throughout this season I have played a few different positions,” Kirk said. “Right now, I am more of a striker and I have the opportunity to score more.”
“She has been more of an offensive player than a defender for the team,” freshman defender Erin Lafferty said. “You can always count on [Kirk] to get back and get the ball from her opponent and win it from anyone.”
On the field, Kirk is regarded as one of the fastest and most fit players, in addition to being the team’s hardest worker, freshman goalkeeper Shauni Kerkhoff said.
“The fact that [Kirk] is very fast is a large part of her game,” Kerkhoff said. “If she makes a mistake, she works to get it back right away and usually does.”
After starting three games for the Owls and appearing in 17 total matches last season, Kirk has seen increased playing time this season, as she has started in nine of Temple’s matches to this point and has made an appearance in each of the 16 contests.
“It is very important for me and it means a lot,” Kirk said about her increased playing time this season. “I like to see that my hard work has been noticed by the coaches. Now, I believe I have to get better with every year.”
“[Kirk] is one of the hardest workers on the field,” Lafferty said. “She works her butt off for this team.”
This season, Kirk shares the same goal that many of her teammates and coaches do, as she wants to make it to the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament.
“I want to make it to the A-10 tournament and do well there,” Kirk said. “It would mean the world to me personally. I just want to shock everybody in the A-10.”
Along with making the A-10 tournament, one of the personal benchmarks Kirk set for herself this year was to score her first collegiate goal.
On Sunday, Oct. 14., she achieved that goal.
Kirk netted her first career goal in the 28th minute of the Owls’ game against Massachusetts, helping lead them to a 2–0 shutout win.
Through 16 games, Kirk has recorded 13 shots, three of which were shots on goal.
“It definitely felt 10 times better than I even thought it would. I have been waiting for it all year and to finally get it is good, but now I just want to score more goals.”
On and off of the field, Kirk has been an all-around great player and person, Kerkhoff said. She is really good at communicating and always keeps her spirits up regardless of the situation.
“I don’t want to be a quiet player,” Kirk said. “I want to stand out and help our team in any way possible.”
John Murrow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @johnmurrow12.