Although she might not be the loudest person in the huddle, it has not gone unnoticed that senior Katharine Larson has been one of the cornerstones for Penn women’s soccer the past three years.
Through her first three seasons, Larson has started in 45 of the 46 games that she has played. In each season with the Quakers, Larson has logged over 1,000 minutes, with at least six 90-minute games — no small feat. In other words, it’s not often that Larson has been off the pitch.
Hailing from Lafayette, Calif., Larson did not grow up in a soccer family like many of her teammates. She was the only one in her family to have played the sport, but of the countless other sports Larson played as a child, it was soccer where she found her groove.
From 2007-2017, Larson played for the same team, Lamorinda Soccer Club, leading them to No. 1 national ranking in 2014 and 2015. Although she didn’t play high school soccer, Larson was still a heavily recruited prospect who would eventually choose to play for the Quakers.
“Even though I didn’t play high school soccer, I went through the whole recruitment process and found Penn pretty early on in the process," Larson said. "I loved the school overall, loved the coaching staff, and was really sold on the team and the culture that was present. It was a really easy decision for me to come all the way out here."
Despite the faster, more competitive nature of collegiate soccer, Larson immediately found her place with the Quakers, starting in 15 of the 16 games during her first year on the team, something that Larson was not expecting when coming to campus.
“I didn’t really know what to expect freshman year. I just always knew that if I put in hard work, I hopefully would get a spot on the field," she said. "Looking back, I’ve grown a lot in terms of my confidence and the relationships I have developed with my teammates."
Larson remained a mainstay for the Quakers in her sophomore and junior years, proving to be an integral part of the 2018 Ivy League title-winning team. During the Quakers’ championship run, Larson started all 16 games, only one of four players to do so.
After Larson’s junior season, coach Casey Brown took over the reigns from Nicole Van Dyke. Despite the coaching change taking place during the COVID-19 pandemic, Larson easily impressed her new coach during individual and team Zoom meetings.
“It was great being able to sit down virtually with [Katharine] and chat one-on-one. She’s an awesome leader and soccer junkie," Brown said. "You can tell she loves the game. She’s really passionate about what she does and very driven and committed to what she’s doing."
Although the fate of her senior season remains uncertain due to the pandemic, Larson is in Philadelphia training for the possibility of a spring season. Moreover, Larson and the other seniors on Penn women’s soccer have been doing something more important during these uncertain times: keeping the team together, connected, and positive.
“I have to say I’ve been very impressed with the whole team by their adaptability and resilience, but especially with Katharine and the rest of the seniors in terms of modeling the highest level of standards and also just managing these uncertain times,” Brown said.
Larson and Brown may not know whether the Quakers will get to play this school year, but they do know that if given the chance, they have the Ivy League title in their sights.