There are some athletes who, game in and game out, just seem to leave everything they have out on the field of play. Sarah Olsen is not one of those players. Instead this junior co-captain of the Cornell women’s soccer team leaves everything out on the field not only game in and game out, but also during every practice and every off-season.
“She’s the hardest working player I’ve ever had the pleasure of coaching,” touted head coach Berhane Andeberhan.
“She is just always looking to improve by working just a little bit harder,” echoed teammate, classmate, and friend Caitlin Ramsey. “She works hard in the off-season to be in the best shape possible and makes everyone else want to do the same. She leads by example and people respond.”
Olsen, a midfielder who led the Red in scoring last season, takes pride in her immense effort.
“It’s just the way I do things, I guess,” she says, “I don’t know any other way to play really.”
Olsen does not live on work ethic alone however. She also happens to be one of the most talented players Cornell soccer has had in recent memory.
From her first day on campus, Olsen displayed herself as the future of the team. She has been called upon to be the team’s go-to player since and has stepped-up in that role for the last two seasons.
“I just knew the first time I saw her play that she was something special,” recalled Andeberhan. “She was totally immersed in the game and her playing ability was amazing.”
Olsen has remained the team’s most consistent offensive threat in her time with the Red and has grown into one of the team’s strongest defensive stoppers as well.
Olsen, who hails from Niskayuna, N.Y., which is just outside of Albany, recalled the difficulty she had choosing between offers to play soccer at various universities. She was heavily recruited for her natural talent, speed and leadership instincts and received interest from many top programs nationwide. Of course, her final decision came much to the delight of all those involved with the Cornell soccer program.
“It was really crazy and hard,” she said, “but it really just came down to where I would be the happiest if I didn’t have soccer, and I just seemed to love [Cornell] the most each time I visited.”
The past few seasons have been somewhat of a struggle for the Red in the win/loss column, but Olsen has always found a way to make herself, and those around her, more competitive.
“I can think of so many times when things just weren’t going our way, and she would get out on the field and turn an entire game around,” Andeberhan said. “She’s that good.”
That’s just the sort of player the Red will need this year as it ends a rebuilding phase and looks to be competitive in the Ivy League again.
Moreover, she is not one to back down when her team needs her most.
“My role, as I see it, is to make sure that everyone feels like they’re important,” she commented, “and to make sure I stay focused in my role.”
Olsen has already shown what teammates call a “natural ability to lead” by calling a captain’s practice a week and a half before most other fall athletes arrived on campus.
“It was a real statement,” Ramsey said about the practice. “It was even more notable that everybody [on the team] showed up.”
“She’s been our MVP so far [the last two years] and will likely be the same this year,” said Andeberhan, “and there’s little doubt that others will look to her this year more than ever.”
With an unselfish and gifted leader at its head, Cornell women’s soccer in 2001 is as ready as ever to challenge for its first Ivy crown in a decade.
“We can play with anyone on our schedule,” Olsen concluded, “and if we’re off, we can at least tire them out.”
The Red, with Olsen, has shown its ability to do just that, edging Lafayette in its season opener and wearing down nationally-ranked Syracuse in its second game.
And you better believe Olsen will be the key to maintaining that consistent effort — game in and game out.
Archived article by Scott Jones