Aug. 29—ROCHESTER — There’s a reason that Century senior Annika Torbenson is so often first in line for soccer drills.
It’s a simple one.
“I think it’s easy to be first in line when you love something,” said Torbenson, an All-Big Nine Conference defender the last two years. “With soccer, I’m excited to do every drill.”
Century coach Karen LaDue has been excited to have Torbenson part of things since promoting her to the varsity as a sophomore.
Torbenson has precisely what LaDue is looking for at that position — speed, strength, savvy, vision, unselfishness and determination.
LaDue is certain that the senior, also a hockey player and an honor student, could thrive at any spot on a soccer field. She’s got the tools for anything. But on defense, that is where she can most unleash her.
“Annika is at the top of the (penalty) box for us,” LaDue said. “She comes up from there and is also part of our attack. She’s going to be in the play regardless of where we are playing her on the field. And she is a great distributor. She beats someone one-on-one and sees where the opening is. She’s not just getting rid of the ball. Plus, she’s a leader, back there helping the rest of our defense.”
Stationed in the back end of the field is also where Torbenson is happiest. Sure, she has the skills to score goals. But she’d rather prevent them.
“I don’t know, I just take a lot of pride in keeping the ball away from the net,” said Torbenson, who helped the Panthers limit teams to 1.8 goals per game last year en route to finishing 9-7-1 overall. “I think I am more naturally gifted at defending than attacking. I love defense. My speed gives me a big advantage and helps me stick out.”
As much as Torbenson understands that she is gifted in soccer, it’s taken some reminding from LaDue and her travel-soccer coaches (she plays almost year-round) for her to become a true believer in herself.
Torbenson’s mom, Vanessa Torbenson, describes her as a “relaxed type-A personality.”
“From the outside, she seems pretty ‘chill,’ ” said Vanessa, who first got Annika signed up for soccer as a 3-year-old. “But she has a big drive and a desire to push forward and be good.”
When Torbenson’s production doesn’t meet her expectations, that’s when there can be some problems. But she is sure to never take her frustrations out on anyone but herself.
LaDue would like to see her defensive star put that away. She wants Torbenson to know how good she is and to not fret when she’s less than perfect.
“Annika does have confidence, but she doesn’t always accept a good performance,” LaDue said. “She always wants more out of herself. She is really humble and I don’t think she sees herself as everyone else does. The team sees her (as a star). I want her to see herself the same way.”
One of Torbenson’s greatest attributes is her selflessness and her “team-first” attitude.
When she isn’t in on a play, she’s the team’s loudest voice and biggest cheerleader — a continual encourager. Torbenson does it because she wants to win. But just as much, she wants to build her teammates up and have them feel good about themselves.
It’s just one more of her strengths and another reason that LaDue is going to be pained a year from now when Torbenson is no longer a part of this program, instead playing college soccer at a yet-to-be determined school.
“Annika is a leader; she is not in this for herself,” LaDue said. “That is the big thing. She wants everyone to have a part in our success.”