Erica Breitling didn’t know what to exactly expect when she started her women’s college soccer career at Northwood University last fall.
What ended up happening probably surprised the Linden 2018 graduate.
The freshman defensive player was just one of two athletes to start in all 16 games during the season.
“I was not expecting that at all,” Breitling said. “It was a shock to me, but I am glad my coaches let me play and prove myself to everyone as a freshman in such a key defensive role.
“My coaches worked with me and gave me a lot of feedback early on to help me improve at this level. It was a great feeling to be a freshman and have your coaches and upperclassmen believe in you to make big plays under pressure. That opportunity was very nerve wracking,
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but I am glad I was given the chance to do it.
“By the end of the spring season my coaches were amazed with how well I did with the pressure and the improvements I made in such a short year.”
To those who saw Breitling play at Linden High School, it probably wasn’t that big of a shock that she made a quick impact at the Division 2 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) school. She thrived at Linden, anchoring the team’s defense all four years she played. She was a member of Linden’s D2 state semifinalist squad as well.
It wasn’t unusual to see an underclass player compete on the squad. The Timberwolves had their share of young players get their share of playing time. under first-year head coach Chelsea Hunter. And through it, the squad learned some lessons during a 2-13-1 season, which included a 1-7-1 mark in the GLIAC. The team struggled scoring goals, netting just 10 in the 16 games. But with so many faces returning, the experience should do the squad well this fall.
“I think what impressed me most was how well my team worked together and how we were able to push each other on and off the field,” Breitling said. “Everyone had high expectations at practice and in games to do their best.”
Breitling is excited to see how she improves this fall.
“I am excited for my second year because of the success I had my freshman year,” Breitling said. “My coaches are great and I am excited to keep improving and and help the incoming freshmen make their adjustment into college.... I think that I will always be learning and improving on the field to be the best I can. I don’t want to get comfortable with my position on the team. I want to keep pushing myself to the next level and keep demanding more from myself.”
In her time with the Timberwolves, the squad is starting to feel a lot like her Linden days. Two past Linden teammates — Bridget Adams and Katie Wilkowski — are on the team as well.
Wilkowski transferred from Oakland University. The midfielder scored two goals in 16 games, starting in 11 of them.
Adams emerged as Northwood’s top keeper a year ago, earning Honorable Mention All-GLIAC honors. She started 14 games, made 68 saves and allowed 24 goals. She won both games for the Timberwolves a year ago.
“I think that it’s super cool to have Bridget and Katie on my college team beause they have seen all my improvements from high school,”Breitling said. “They helped me transition into high school soccer as a freshman, and it was nice to have them again as I started playing collegiately.”