Corner kick it good: Weber stars for UW

first_imgAs a freshman on the 2005 women’s soccer team, Elise Weber was one of the quiet contributors on a team dominated by an outstanding senior class. Now, one year later, Weber has been thrust into the everyday starting lineup and been asked to be one of the leaders on a team that has high expectations to have another championship year.That’s a lot of pressure for a small, shy sophomore, but if anyone could handle the pressure of winning and competing, look no further than Elise Weber. A 2005 recruit from Elk Grove, Ill., Weber had a successful high school career, captaining her St. Viator High School team to the 2005 Illinois Women’s Soccer Championship. Upon coming to Wisconsin, Weber kept her high level of play, playing in 24 games — starting 19 — for the Badgers and scoring five goals to lead her freshmen class.No goal was bigger for Weber however, than the goal she scored at Northwestern, a goal that got the Badgers into the Big Ten Tournament, which they eventually won, allowing them to advance to NCAAs.But that’s all in the past for Weber and her teammates, as they now have their sights set on this year’s Big Ten Conference, a conference so wide open that any team has a chance to win. But, without the services of last year’s senior ball-strikers, Wisconsin needed last year’s underclassmen to step up to play a key role on the team. So far this year, Weber has taken on the leadership role on the field, helping to guide the Badgers’ young offensive attack.”As a freshman, you come in not knowing what to expect,” Weber said. “Not knowing how to communicate on the field with your team because college is a completely new thing. That’s the biggest difference coming into my sophomore year. I’m more comfortable with the team and with where I am. It builds more confidence in yourself and it hopefully shows to the others.””[Weber] started to [be a role model] in the spring last year, continued that in Germany and now this year,” head coach Dean Duerst said. “She’s a very competitive person. She communicates, encourages and demands stuff from herself and her teammates. You can see that in her personality. Freshman year, you’re sorting stuff out. Your sophomore year, you need to start taking some form of leadership. You need those players who are steady on the field, and Elise takes that approach on the field and in practice.”One of the most important things the Badgers needed to find was a player that could be their kicker on corner kicks, essentially the quarterback of the play. Last year, Amy Vermeulen was responsible for placing the perfect pass. This year, the ball lands solely at the foot of Weber and she has not disappointed. In Wisconsin’s last game against Kentucky, a perfectly placed corner kick by Weber found the back of the net when captain Kara Kabellis knocked in the pass and gave the Badgers a 1-0 win. It’s the execution on the corner kicks that has been one of the essential ingredients for Wisconsin’s success, and Weber has delivered.”Elise is one of those players that always hits a ball well,” teammate Taylor Walsh said. “She’s always been able to hit a ball really nicely. She’s practicing at it everyday, hitting corners and working on it and [it shows].””We knew [Elise] could strike good, long distance balls and, at times, put a little bend on it,” Duerst said. “Elise has come into her own in her role and she’s more confident with [corner kicks]. She continually practices them throughout the week and then it’s just about rhythm. She is someone we continue to make sure she’s hitting those for us.”Even with her new leadership role on the team, Weber hasn’t shown a drop-off in performance. Through only seven games, Weber has already posted a goal, two assists and 10 shots on goal. According to Walsh, the added pressure to perform hasn’t bothered Weber, who continues to be competitive and just play soccer. “She played really well last year and wasn’t really pointed at to step up and be one of the key players last year, even though she came through in so many games,” Walsh said. “This year, she’s looked to really step up and there is some pressure on her. She handles it well, but she always handles everything well on the field. She’s just an easy player, really calm and competitive.”That competitive, soccer instinct that Weber plays with runs in her family, as her older sister Lauren is a senior soccer player for Marquette. With Lauren only 90 minutes down the road, both she and Elise have one of their best advisors only a phone call away: each other.”We’re really close and we talk all the time whenever we can,” Weber said. “On the field, we don’t act like it or we pretend like we’re enemies. When it’s all said and done, we’re still sisters.”last_img