METUCHEN, NJ - As United Women's Soccer (UWS) works to finalize details on their Summer 2018 season, the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) is ramping up for their start of their season in later March. NWSL held their 2018 College Draft in January at the United Soccer Coaches (USC) Convention in Philadelphia and one UWS alum who was selected - former Georgetown University and Lancaster Inferno defender Elizabeth Wenger - had a truly interesting experience in her first glimpse of life in the professional ranks.
The 2017 BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year was kind enough to answer a few questions for us regarding her burgeoning NWSL career, the lessons she learned at Georgetown and how the Inferno helped augment her overall soccer experience.
Q: Its been an interesting first few weeks in your professional career. After first being drafted by the Boston Breakers, that team unexpectedly folded and now you're a member of the Washington Spirit after the Dispersal Draft. How does it feel to be a member of the Spirit? It is closer to your home, so that must be great for your family and friends?
A: It has certainly been an interesting first few weeks of my pro career, especially considering I have yet to step on the field. I am excited to have been picked up by the Washington Spirit. All through the draft process, I tried to orient myself with where I might end up. Staying in the District certainly makes this easier as I'm familiar with the city. Also, I am close enough to the Spirit's training facilities to get to more practices this spring as opposed to making sporadic trips up to Boston (I'm still finishing out my senior year at Georgetown). My family are excited that I got picked up by a team within driving distance from home. They get to keep making the same trip they've made so many times over the past four years.
Q: You had a stellar four-year career at Georgetown University, one of the top teams in the BIG EAST if not the country. What was the biggest lesson you learned there that has prepared you for life in the professional ranks?
A: My career at Georgetown has been beyond anything I could have imagined. The biggest lesson I've picked up along the way has been that the little things, the little moments create the bigger ones. The time and effort put into a warm-up technical session, the number of times a certain passing pattern gets run, the focus placed on footwork in a drill, these small parts of the game make a world of difference in the larger game. For example, our 2016 Final Four run was built on the hard work and focus we put into the previous spring, the long hours of preseason, our loss early on to Stanford, and the subsequent wins that built our confidence as a group. Throughout the process, we learned from our mistakes and improved. It was the little moments that formed a base for the big ones.
Overall, it is really important to appreciate every little moment you're on the field. Sometimes, at higher levels of competition it's easy to lose track of why we suit up everyday and step onto the training field. We become too focused on outcomes and the goals we set out for ourselves. It's easy to forget what brought us to the field in the first place, and that is a love for the game, for the competition, the challenge, and the family the sport provides.
Q: You were one of the stalwarts on defense for the Lancaster Inferno during the 2017 season. How was your experience with the team? What did you think of the overall quality of play in UWS?
A: I loved playing with the Lancaster Inferno this past summer. The women I got to play with were not only talented soccer players but awesome people with a great love of the game. I always find it impressive when a group of unfamiliar players come together in a short time to create a cohesive team... and this happens amid "adult" jobs, summer internships, summer vacations, and other responsibilities. That extends to the other teams in the league. The competition is high. The play is quick and the games are fierce. The women on the field are tough and smart. These two characteristics make UWS a fun league to play in.
About United Women’s Soccer (UWS): UWS is a national women’s soccer league sanctioned by U.S. Soccer through the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA). UWS is a professionally operated league created for teams that meet high minimum standards. The season runs from May until the end of July, culminating in a National Championship match. The UWS player pool is comprised of college players, aspiring & former professionals and international stars. You can follow UWS on social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Media can contact UWS Director of Communications Jorma Kansanen by e-mail at UWSPress@gmail.com. You can visit the league’s official website at UWSSoccer.com. Interested team applicants can contact League Commissioner Joe Ferrara, Jr. by e-mail at Joe@UWSSoccer.com.