December 31, 2003 09:00 PM
When I first started out in college, there was a lot of frustration and disappointment for me. I remember my coach, Anson Dorrance, talking about it so much.
Strikers fail the majority of the time, and it can get very discouraging. I had to learn not to get frustrated with all my failures and to turn that negative energy into something positive, like winning the ball back.
Everybody on the field fails. With strikers, it's just easier to see. At the higher levels, the opportunities to score are few and far between. I had this conversation with Bill Palladino, our assistant coach at UNC.
He would say, 'Mia, when you lose the ball, your head goes down right away. You've got to figure something out.'
Anson and I worked on it, too. He gave me examples, and one was Carla (Overbeck). When she gets mad at herself, she uses that energy to win the ball back. Other players just blow it off. They told me I had to figure out the best way for me. I tried th channel the negative energy into working hard to win the ball back.
I learned a lot from my mistakes. And there were so many of them. I became more of a student of the game. Anson, Dino, and Tony DiCicco helped me with that. Just being smarter helped. I learned that the more competitive the level, the less chances you get. The important question is how do you make the most out of those opportunities?
I remember I used to take the dumbest shots. I would get to the endline and still try to shoot, and, of course, there was no angle from which to shoot. I must have missed ten goals like that my freshman year, and I must have assisted on 20 goals like that in my sophomore year. Being that kind of student of the game really helped.
I learned a lot from April Heinrichs and Michelle Akers. I can't play the kind of physical game Michelle plays, and I can't play the mind games that other strikers play. There are some international strikers who really get into the defender's head. You are always wondering what she is going to do.
I had to learn what was best for me.