Coach Darren Ambrose couldn’t be happier that history is repeating itself for the Penn women’s soccer team.
In 2010, then-freshman Kerry Scalora was named Rookie of the Year by both the ECAC and the Ivy League. After being named Ivy League Rookie of the week for the second time in three weeks, current freshman Erin Mikolai has a chance to follow in Scalora’s footsteps.
Mikolai stole the show in Sunday’s 4-0 rout of NJIT, registering two scores to raise her total to a team-best three goals on the season. Scalora won the Ivy Rookie of the Week award three times en route to her Rookie of the Year honors, so Mikolai has an excellent chance at recognition. Yet the freshman isn’t looking back.
“They make me proud to receive them,” Mikolai said of the honors. “But they’re just a constant reminder that I need to keep myself together to stay on top and keep getting those awards.”
Mikolai currently ranks second on the team in points, and her emergence as one of Penn’s most dangerous scoring threats is no surprise to Ambrose.
“We knew when we recruited her she’s a very good player,” Ambrose said. “She’s very technical. She’s got really nice composure, which is not unusual for a player, but for them to transfer that to a very high-paced game, it is unusual.”
Mikolai may be making a similar statistical impact as Scalora did in 2010, but she is doing it her own way.
“Kerry’s a much more powerful player because she’s big, she’s strong, she can run fast,” Ambrose said. “She strikes the ball with her left foot very hard.
“Mikolai is a much more savvy, technical player. She’s very subtle in what she does,” Ambrose added. “You really have to watch [her] to see what she brings to the game. Kerry you’ll see because of her athleticism. With Erin you’ll see how well she handles the ball, [the] passes she connects and the places she puts herself in the attacking part of the game.”
Mikolai has impressed Ambrose with how easily she has taken the transition to college athletics in stride. Like her favorite soccer player Lionel Messi, she’s more than willing to wear her confidence on her sleeve.
“I kind of knew I’d be a major contributor [all] along because that’s just my mentality when I came into it,” Mikolai said. “I needed to push myself and be that kind of person.”
Ambrose has been encouraging Mikolai to shoot to score rather than simply to shoot for shooting’s sake. He sees no signs of her slowing down yet, and with no “freshman wall” in sight, it looks like she’ll be able to finish her standout rookie start.
“It’s all up to you to decide whether you want to step up or just be another freshman,” Mikolai said.
She’s proven thus far that she’s not.
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