Entering this season, the Oswego State women’s soccer team knew they would have big shoes to fill, after graduating four seniors last year. Not only were the Lakers losing four stellar players on the pitch, but they were losing four leaders that previously led the team to the SUNYAC playoffs.
The Lakers entered this season looking for leadership and though they have found it through several players, none have been more unlikely than Emma Geyer. The improbability of Geyer’s rise to becoming a key leader on this team has less to do with her play on the field and more to do with her Division III experience; Geyer is just a freshman.
Geyer comes from Liverpool, just south of Oswego County and despite only having eleven games at the collegiate level, she has already established herself as a force in the SUNYAC conference. With three goals this season, including a game-winner against Rutgers-Camden on Aug. 31, it did not take long for Geyer to put the rest of the league on notice.
Geyer is a goal-scorer, first and foremost, but her game has developed another weapon as the season has progressed. Even when Geyer is not scoring, she is attracting the attention of the opponent. Her unheralded aggressive style not only serves her purpose, but eases the defensive focus that the other competent Laker goal-scorers receive.
Assistant coach Tracy Blake already sees Geyer as an example for the rest of the team to follow.
“We want everybody to be as aggressive as Emma”, Blake said. “You have to win the physical game. If you lose the physical game, there is a good chance you will lose the game. On the other end, if you win the physical game, there is a great chance that the scoreboard will look after itself.”
Despite standing in at 5 feet 3 inches tall, Geyer takes the field with the aggression of a much bigger player.
“Her stature is huge, she doesn’t get pushed off the ball often,” Blake said. “She is so feisty, and so quick, that if she loses the ball, she’s fighting to get it right back. I love it.”
When a player like Geyer breaks onto the scene as swiftly as she has done this year, she immediately became a focal-point for not only the teams success in this season, but a leader who is going to be depended on for her next three years.
Although senior captain Georgia Traynor will be graduating at the end of this year, she is confident in the team moving forward with players like Geyer at the helm.
“They’re going to be in a great position for the next few years,” Traynor said. “We finally got the team to a competitive spot. We are a top competitor in this conference now and they will be able to keep that position for the next few years. I’m sure of it.”
Being a senior and a veteran on the team, Traynor has an interesting perspective on Geyer and her breakout freshman season.
“She [Geyer] stepped up the second she got here. She’s been great, she hasn’t given up at all,” Traynor said. “Emma gives 100 percent for the entire game and that’s what we need. She never comes off the field because she makes such a difference when she is on it.”
Consistent determination for the entire 90 minutes may just be second nature for a player of Geyer’s ability, but when discussing the team’s success going forward, Geyer acknowledges that the team must be gritty as a whole.
“It’s great to know that in the tough situations, when we’re tied or heading to overtime, that we can stay mentally tough, like we did last weekend,” Geyer said, referring to the team’s 2-0 win over Potsdam on Friday and 2-2 tie against SUNY Plattsburgh on Saturday.
Geyer did not score a goal in either of those games, but her presence on the field continues to benefit the team as Geyer has accumulated 960 minutes on the field this season, the most on the team.
When you have been as dependable as Geyer has been this season, it is easy to forget she is just a freshman who was playing at the high school level just last year. Transitioning to a higher level of competition this year, Geyer is aware of the change in play style.
“Everything is a lot faster, and a lot more physical, but I love that aspect of the game. It’s been awesome,” Geyer said.
One would not recognize that Geyer has been forced to make adjustments, as she has not only held her own against Division III athletes, but has outpaced them. Retaining the same intensity from start to finish is something that Geyer works on. A steady mindset is one of her biggest strengths.
“I just love those situations where the game is tied, and you just need to stay tough. Those are the moments that you play for as a team,” Geyer said. “That is when we come together, and we’re usually able to pull out a win.”
“It’s just fun that way. We look forward to those situations,” Geyer said.
Whatever the score is, wherever the Lakers sit in the conference standings, Geyer’s love for the game never wanes. Perhaps the biggest key to her early success as a Laker is simply minimizing the moments occurring around her.
The Lakers are playing their best soccer of the season right now and are a legitimate threat to finish atop the SUNYAC Conference. Though Oswego State has stumbled at points this season, the superb play of Geyer has remained steady. If one thing is for certain, it is that Geyer will be leaving it all on the field for her next three years as a Laker.