The Eastern Michigan University women’s soccer program has been one of the premier teams in the Mid-American Conference since the team was formed in 1995. Head coach Scott Hall has been with the program since its inception. Last season, he coached six players that ended up on the All-MAC team so he knows what makes a successful college soccer player.
This season, coach Hall has a new recruit he is especially excited about. Her name is Stephanie Clarke. A freshman forward from London, Ontario, she has already been named the MAC offensive player of the week and has a team high of 11 points for the Eagles squad that remains unbeaten in MAC play this season.
Clarke loves to play all sports. She plays basketball, badminton and volleyball, runs cross-country and even knows how to figure skate. But being a student of the game since the age of four, soccer is her favorite.
“I feel like it’s the best combination of every sport,” Clarke said. “There’s running, tackling, skill and finesse with the ball. I really enjoy it.”
When she is out on the field during a game, she stays focused by not letting anything bother her. When she messes up, she doesn’t dwell on it.
“I shake it off and try to do something with the ball next time I get it.”
Clarke, a biology major who hopes to become a doctor specializing in sports medicine, has her own rituals and superstitions about her game.
“I have to put everything on my right side first. I have to put on my right shin pad on first, my right sock, my right shoe and I can only roll my shorts up once or else it will bother me,” Clarke said.
Coach Hall said she is fitting in really well with the team. The first three or four weeks she was really enthusiastic but she wasn’t scoring. She had some struggles early on in the season but has adjusted well to the new level.
“She’s a great team player. She’s got good touch, she strikes good and she is quite accurate,” Hall said. “She creates goals and understands the system.”
Hall is excited about Clarke’s abilities but is anxious to see how she will turn out after he has had the chance to coach her for a full season, and beyond.
“We get her here for a full year. I think, going in to the next year she is just going to take another giant step,” Hall said. “And over the next four years, she is definitely going to be a fun player to watch.”
Clarke admits that sometimes it can be pretty lonesome being away at school. She said she doesn’t have time to meet a lot of people but she has made some friends on the soccer team, and likes it here at Eastern. She visited and ultimately chose EMU because, “the soccer team is good and it’s close to home.”
Coach Hall is glad to have added such a promising athlete to his roster.
“She’s got a great personality and she’s a great kid, we’re glad to have her,” Hall said.