Freshman twins attack with speed

Mark Pawlak

Amy and Sarah Kovarik have been playing soccer together their whole lives. Now that they’ve gone on to college, nothing will change.

“Even since we’ve been little, we’ve never been on a different team. We’ve always been on the same team,” Sarah said.

Amy and Sarah are two of eight freshmen on the ISU women’s soccer team. The play of this group of newcomers will be instrumental in the Cyclones’ success.

The twins, along with the rest of the freshmen class, will bring speed to the Cyclones’ new, more aggressive attack.

Head coach Stephanie Gabbert said that speed was a main concern for this year’s group of freshmen.

The Kovarik twins attended Olathe East in Overland Park, Kan. where they both excelled in track. Amy posted the best time in Kansas in the 800 meters in 2000.

Their ability to run helps them on the soccer field.

“My coaches have always been telling me to knock it past players and use your speed,” Sarah said.

Amy and Sarah will play different roles for Iowa State. Sarah is a forward, while Amy is a midfielder.

“[Sarah’s] role is to score goals,” Amy Kovarik said. “Mine is to be defending goals.”

Both will likely get to display their talents off the bat.

“Right now, I expect both of them to be getting a good amount of playing time. If not right away, certainly as they get more experience as the season goes on,” Gabbert said. “Sarah will add a lot to our attack in getting in behind teams because of her speed. Amy is going to give us more depth in the back, which we needed last year quite a bit.”

The Cyclones will have all freshmen at the midfield position in Friday’s season opener against Illinois. Kelly Burke, Nikki Gamble and Laura Schweer are all slated to see playing time. Erin Weldon is another player that will contribute as a midfielder.

Schweer, from Wheaton, Ill., has drawn the eye of Gabbert.

“(Schweer) been playing very well for us. She’s been our biggest surprise throughout preseason,” Gabbert said. “She’s made a huge difference for us on the front line, in terms of keeping possession and getting other players into it.”

The freshmen are inexperienced, but will bring a new enthusiasm to ISU soccer.

“I think if you watch our games this year, you will see when the inexperience shows. Also having so many young people, they’re so much more eager and ready to battle to the end,” Gabbert said.

Gabbert’s first recruiting class is the beginning step in the ascension of the Cyclone soccer program.

“I think this year will be exciting for us because we are so young. We’ll upset some teams and probably lose some games that we shouldn’t because of our inexperience,” Gabbert said.

“My plan for this program is what we told this whole recruiting class, you’re going to come in and start helping us make a change. By the time you graduate, we’re going to be the top team in our conference. We’re not trying to turn the whole program around in one year.”