The goal for many freshman athletes is just to see the field at some point in the season. However, freshman soccer player Nikki Marshall is setting a trend of dominating it every game.
Just ask the players and coaches at Clemson University, who witnessed the young athlete’s record-setting performance on Sept. 1.
It only took her 38 minutes of play against Clemson to log her first two career goals. Marshall would add two more goals by the end of the game, giving her a school record with four for the day. In her first six collegiate matches, Marshall leads CU with seven goals.
“I think I had a couple of good games this weekend (Sept. 1-3), and I hope that that continues, but I don’t think a four-goal game is realistic,” Marshall said.
Observers at Marshall’s game noticed her talent.
“She looked so natural. She actually could’ve had seven goals, but the goalie made two great saves,” said Nick Knight, a sophomore pre-journalism major who works for the sports show at Radio 1190, CU’s campus radio station.
“When I was watching her play (Clemson), I wondered if the roster was a misprint. This girl couldn’t be a freshman. She had excellent movement off the ball and has a really quick first step that allows her to beat defenders,” said Knight.
Marshall’s early season play has earned her an array of awards from different publications. In the span of three days, she was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Week by the conference and National Player of the Week by Soccer Times. She is the first Buff to ever receive a National Player of the Week honor by any publication.
While all of these awards might be unusual territory for a player so young, Marshall, a 5’7″ forward and native Coloradan, is used to the recognition. She was an All-State player for three years at Skyline High School, where she broke the school record for goals in a career with 100. In addition to playing for Skyline, she was also a member of the 2005 Colorado State Cup Championship team.
However, Marshall acknowledges that differences exist between high school and college play. “High school soccer is nothing like college soccer. It is not nearly as intense and the girls aren’t of the same caliber. You weed out the girls who don’t really want to be there,” she said.
“Being successful in college means so much more to me than high school because the competition is so much better,” she said.
So far, however, CU soccer is dominating the competition. Following an upset of 14th-ranked Utah this past Sunday, CU is now 4-1-1 on the season. Their start has already vaulted them to No. 22 in the most recent soccer rankings by the NCSAA.
“We have an awesome freshman class. We have such a good young team, and we are going to be awesome in the future,” Marshall said.