Nine games. Nine starts.
And she’s only a freshman.
Penn soccer midfielder Sara Readinger has made her presence felt just two months into her first season with the Quakers. Readinger currently sits at fifth on the team in total minutes played with 688 total minutes, helping the Quakers on their way to a 5-3-1 start to the season.
“Just [Sara’s] ability on the ball - she’s very fluid. She can change the point of attack. She’s quick. She’s agile. She has a good eye for the game. I think that on our team it is one of the hardest positions to play so I have a lot of respect for her and I’m just excited to watch her grow and learn,” coach Nicole van Dyke said.
Readinger’s story with the Quakers starts back when she was a sophomore at Souderton Area High School in Telford, Pa, only about 30 miles from Penn’s campus. In her second year of high school, she committed to play soccer at James Madison.
Penn wasn’t in her future, but, to the good fortune of the Quakers, things changed.
“Something happened with the coach there and I ended up coming to Penn, which I am extremely excited about,” Readinger said. “I committed [to Penn] my junior year going into my senior year.”
Readinger has taken advantage of her opportunity with the Quakers to this point. She has been a part of a freshman class that is dominating minutes for the team. Readinger has the fifth most minutes on the team and the player with the most minutes on the team — Peyton Raun — is also a freshman.
“All of the freshman who are getting time and even the ones who aren’t are making a huge impact on the team. They’re bringing so much energy and so many different skills and are just overall a great addition to the team,” senior midfielder Megan Lloyd said. “[Sara] fits great into the system. She fits perfectly. We usually use the defensive mid position as someone who is a playmaker and Sara immediately came on the field and was able to do that.”
With the help and mentorship of Lloyd, Sara has been able to make the most of her time with the Red and Blue.
“Megan has really pushed me to be able to win balls. It’s such a big position to step into and Megan has done such a great job and she continues to dominate here, so a lot of my play has been just me trying to match that,” Readinger said.
Coming into her time with Penn, neither Readinger nor van Dyke expected this much playing time so early on in her career. The team prides itself on an environment where everybody pushes each other for spots everyday and gives it their all. Readinger, after working hard every day at practice, has taken her opportunity in the starting lineup and proven time and time again that she deserves to be in the position she is in.
Off the field, Sara fits in just as seamlessly as she does on it.
“Sara’s infamous for that rogue one-liner that’s quite funny. She processes a lot so she doesn’t always speak, but when she does, even in the non-soccer setting, she’s quite witty and has a good sense of humor. For someone who seems pretty serious and stoic, it’s nice that she also brings some personality to the game,” van Dyke said.
So far, Sara’s favorite moment on the field has been the Bucknell game, where the team battled tough field conditions on the road in a 2-0 victory.
“My favorite memory is the Bucknell game. It was definitely one of the lesser controlled games that we had just because of the conditions that we were in, so it was just more of a battle that game,” Readinger said. “Coming together as a team and playing a team as good as Bucknell, it really showed who we are. Our identity as a team really came out that game and it was really fun to see.”
Readinger is looking to continue making her impact felt on the team along with the rest of her freshman class for the team's remaining seven games this season. Their next challenge will come this Saturday at Rhodes Field against Cornell.