Senior Sarah Olsen began her soccer career at age five by joining a boys’ club soccer team coached by her dad. She has since risen to the ranks of captain of the women’s soccer squad, achieving numerous awards and recognition along the way. Olsen has been a dominating force in the midfield ever since she arrived at Cornell three years ago.
“I honestly had no idea what to expect [my first year]. I was, as all freshmen are, very nervous about playing, and I didn’t know if I would get to actually get to play too much my freshman year, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect coming in,” remarked Olsen.
Her nervousness subsided quickly as she became a key part of the Red’s offense in her rookie year, netting four goals (three of them game winners) and earning the team’s MVP award. She fared no differently in her sophomore season, when she led the team in scoring and was again named the team’s MVP.
Named co-captain last season, Olsen has proven to be a leader on and off the field. She values the teamwork that soccer requires, and makes sure to represent the concerns of her teammates.
“I love being part of the team and the whole idea of team unity. You can have a bunch of great athletes together, but if there isn’t a lot of team unity and team chemistry, then you can’t really go anyplace with that,” commented Olsen. “It’s not just about the competitiveness, it’s about being able to join as a team and being able to rely on everybody’s strengths and play together.”
This year’s recruiting class provides a much deeper midfield than the Red has had in the past, giving Olsen and the other midfielders more support on the field.
“Sarah will always play all-out, but because the team around her is improved, it’ll be more fun and more productive,” commented head coach Berhane Andeberhan. “I don’t see her slacking off or anything like that, but she can become effective, and the team, as a result, can be more effective.”
Last season, Olsen tied for the team lead in goals with three tallies, including a game-winner against Ivy foe Yale in overtime. She is a consistent performer, creating many scoring chances with 28 shots in 2001. In addition to being named team MVP for the third year in a row, Olsen also earned All-Ivy second-team honors for the second year in a row.
Playing the midfield allows her to play a role in both the offense and defense. On the field, Olsen is a focused and determined workhorse.
“My main concern during the game is staying focused and staying in the moment and looking at what’s happening right then and keeping composure; staying calm regardless of what takes place is always key,” said Olsen. “My other main thought is just the idea that I always want to work harder than my opponent or harder than my mark. If that’s happening, then I feel everything else will fall into place eventually.”
This year, the Red is off to its best start since 1992 with a 4-1 (1-1 Ivy) record. Olsen has tallied 16 shots in the first four games and will look for more scoring opportunities in the coming weeks.
Looking back at her soccer career at Cornell, Olsen doesn’t recall one specific defining moment on the field.
“Over the past couple of years, we’ve had many ups and downs, and our records haven’t always been incredible. I’d say my accomplishment would be just trying to stay positive throughout it all and learning what I can from each game, and trying to remain focused throughout the season and keeping everyone else up and focused as well, and just not giving up.”
Archived article by Jonathan Auerbach