The transition from high school athletics to college can be a scary one. Student-athletes are bigger, faster and stronger in college than in high school.
Tiffany Kasunich is finding that out the hard way. The freshman was told a few weeks before the season that she would be the women’s soccer team’s starting goalkeeper. Just months removed from the high school field, Kasunich has taken the move in stride, according to her new coach and teammates.
“To hear I was starting, that was a big shocker,” Kasunich said.
She was handed the job after junior Elizabeth Tarasevich tore her anterior cruciate ligament at Temple’s alumni game in the spring. In addition to Tarasevich’s injury, Ashley Minchhoff, a 2004 transfer from Lock Haven (Pa.), broke her leg in March. With nowhere else to turn, coach David Jones appointed Kasunich the starter.
“I was at the [alumni] game in March, and I didn’t even know that Liz hurt herself,” Kasunich said. “I found out only a couple days into preseason that she wasn’t playing. It scared me a little bit.”
Kasunich has responded to the pressure of college-level soccer, averaging four saves per game through five games. Earlier this season, she posted 10 saves against Seton Hall. She credits a lot of her success so far to her team’s defense.
“The defense has been amazing. They have really helped me out, especially with me being a freshman,” Kasunich said. “They have really helped me make this an easy transition.”
Compared to her playing days at Absegami High School in Atlantic City, N.J., Kasunich has noticed an increased level of intensity since her first game with the Owls.
“Soccer wasn’t too big in South Jersey. It’s a lot different here,” Tiffany said with a laugh. “It is a lot more physical. I can see when the girls are getting hit. It’s a lot different than before. Also, college soccer seems to be a lot more vocal. There is a lot more talking and direction on this level.”
Kasunich said she was sure collegiate-level athletics were meant for her. A four-year varsity basketball player at Absegami, Kasunich was recruited to play soccer at Caldwell (N.J.) College, Coastal Carolina, Mercy (N.Y.) College, and Christopher Newport (Va.) University.
The reason Kasunich chose Temple was a simple one.
“I just wanted to stay in the area, close to home,” she said.
Even though she only has a few college games under her belt, Kasunich said she is focused on following through with her new team’s goals.
“While personally I would like two or three shutouts, I am more focused on making the Atlantic Ten [Conference] tournament,” Kasunich said. “That has been our team goal, and going into the A-10 season, we really want to make the tournament.”
Greg Otto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.