It’s the oldest cliché in the books: Hard work pays off.
While all those within the realm of collegiate athletics believe the well-worn phrase to be true, not all have the drive and determination to see the process though.
Linfield sophomore soccer player Anna Sours (Sr., Jacksonville, Ore.) is among the group that lets her hard work drive her success.
One of just four players to start in all 18 games in 2010, Sours has continued to be one of the most productive Wildcats after a breakout freshman season in 2009.
A first team all-state selection out of South Medford High School, Sours started in 19 games as a freshman while tallying six goals. Through 18 games as a sophomore, Sours is second on the team with six goals. She has contributed two match-winning goals and passed out a pair of assists.
For Sours, it’s easy to identify the key to her success.
“I would say my work ethic,” explains Sours. “That is just something that I always focus on. It’s the type of person I am. I have also played a lot of center-mid, which is the type of position where you have to be all over the place. One of the things I love about soccer is that you are always fighting to regain possession.”
For teammate and close friend Bridget Grant (Sr., Tacoma, Wash.), it is Sours that has provided the spark the Wildcats have needed to contend for a Northwest Conference championship.
"We have a team full of girls who work very hard for one another, but I think what stands out about Anna is her consistency,” reflects Grant. “You'd be hard pressed to find a time when she's not giving her max effort. Her work ethic is definitely inspiring.”
The Wildcats have rode Sours’ inspiration to the most wins in program history. The sophomore’s ability to control the game with her quickness has been a product of a clear focus in her offseason training.
“After talking with the coaches after last season and addressing what I should be working on, I feel like my ball skills have gotten a lot better,” says the sophomore from Jacksonville, a small town in southern Oregon. “I used to never take people on one-on-one but now I have a lot more confidence doing that. When I am able to make quick decisions I am able to move the ball fast.”
Moving the ball fast has been exactly what the ‘Cats have done in 2010, leading to a high-powered offense that is outscoring opponents 50-15 heading into the final weekend of the regular season.
Along with the increased win total and players such as Sours, the Linfield women’s soccer program has taken a quantum step toward becoming one of the more relevant sports programs in all of Linfield athletics.
“There is definitely more excitement around the program,” notes Sours. “There are more fans that come to our games and you can tell that people know we are doing well. Last year we wouldn’t have been on the radar at all.”
“(Coach Dominic Doty) talks a lot about taking pride in the things you do. We understand that we have a lot of potential but we are always focused on not getting ahead of ourselves. Every game is the most important game. Everyday we try to come out and focus on how we can get better that day.”
That attitude combined with a consistent work ethic by team members has the ‘Cats in position for a big final weekend. The Wildcats need to win their final two games, as well as have Puget Sound drop their final two, in order to claim the first conference conference title in program history.
“All we can do is win out,” reflects Sours. “We’ve talked a lot about peaking at the end of the season and I think we are moving towards that and a lot of our goals. If we keep building on the energy we have now and the process we’ve been making then I think we have a good shot at accomplishing our goals.”
As successful as the ‘Cats and Sours have been on the field, it may not equal the level of achievement the sophomore has obtained in the classroom.
For the majority of those competing at the Division III level, academics hold a prominent place in an athlete’s college experience.
Sours has not just gotten by in the classroom, she has excelled. The sophomore is currently touting a 4.0 grade point average, while majoring in sociology with a minor is Spanish. Her academic prowess was recently recognized with a spot on the ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District Team.
“A lot of people say that sports help you focus better. It helps me manage my time,” says Sours. “School has always been a priority for me. A lot of coming to Linfield was for soccer, but also largely because of the academics. I know that I need to get everything finished for my classes and I don’t make any compromises in accomplishing that.”
Accomplishing anything through hard work has been a staple for Sours in her two years at Linfield.
Now imagine where she will be two years down the road.
-- Eric Evenson '11
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