Brooke Merchant, a freshman on the women’s soccer team who grew up not far from campus, has had a huge impact on the
team this season. Due to medical reasons, she wasn’t able to look at many schools her senior year, but out of her limited options, Goucher seemed like the obvious pick. “It had a great science department and it gave me the option to play soccer,” Merchant said. “Basically I would be able to do everything I loved to do.” And not only does she love to do all of these things – she’s very talented at them, too.
But talent is not just given – one has to work for it. And work for it Merchant has. In her high school, “Many of my teammates played on elite Bethesda [her hometown] teams and had more experience than I, but I was able to work hard and improve as a player.” Soccer players don’t have the chance to back down or think too long about a decision. Your whole heart needs to stay in the game. “You have to keep pushing and keep fighting in order beat your opponent both physically and mentally,” Merchant said. “You have got to sacrifice your body, play for your teammates, and put everything out there on the field for whatever amount of time you put in. It’s about making an impact in either small or big ways.”
Because she was undergoing chemotherapy for cancer earlier in the year, Merchant came back to preseason feeling a bit less fit in comparison to the other girls. “It took a lot of practicing and work but I was gradually able to gain my strength, coordination, and skills, and speed back. Everything did not click as fast as I wanted them to but once it did, I felt like I could do anything.” It certainly clicked at the end of the season, when Merchant scored her first goal in a conference game against Moravian on November 2nd.
Now that the season is over, Merchant is planning on healing and continuing to gain strength for next year. She doesn’t think she’s gained all of her strength back after her illness and is still working on overcoming an injury. “First, I will be going to rehab to take care of my hamstring. Additionally, I will be working out weights and running to get my speed back and get stronger so I can prevent injuries next season.” The Lady Gophers, who made an impact on the Landmark Conference this past season, have a bright future ahead. As Merchant concluded, “We have so many talented individuals on the team, and I hope that we can continue to mesh together in order to be the best, land ourselves into the Landmark conference, and win it all.”