Replacing a player the caliber of Erika Shisler is the kind of daunting task not everyones willing to sign up for.
But despite the fact shed be replacing the second-best player in Fort Lewis College womens soccer history in assists, Megan Striedel saw things in a much simpler light.
There was a starting spot open, and she wanted it.
Striedel hasnt been one to shy away from the big moment since joining the Skyhawks last year as a freshman. She buried the deciding penalty kick to push FLC past Metro State in last seasons NCAA Tournament, so replacing one of the more decorated players in school history wasnt daunting; it was just a matter of outworking the competition.
There was a spot that could potentially be open because Erika graduated, and I wanted it to be mine more than anything, Striedel said. I pushed myself every day of the summer to just tire myself out and do it the next day over and over.
FLC head coach Damian Clarke said it was Striedels fitness that earned her the job, one shell carry into todays game with Adams State, pointing out that she followed the Skyhawks offseason training regimen to a T. Its a work ethic Striedel said she picked up from her older brother, Ryan, who himself was a good athlete before a back injury derailed his athletic career.
I think its partly growing up with my brother being my biggest critic and saying, You have to stay until you do it right, stay until you do it right, Striedel said. If practice ends, if I havent done it right yet, I get upset at myself and want to keep going.
He suffered a back injury and cant play anymore, so I play for him mostly because he cant anymore, and I know hed love to if he could.
The sophomore outside midfielder doesnt lack dedication, and Clarke said shes just fine in the tenacity department as well. After practices where Striedel isnt in peak form, Clarke said shes stone-faced, wanting little to do with post-practice chit-chat as she tries to figure out how to not repeat the same mistakes.
Shes the kid that, to be honest, if training doesnt go the way she wouldve liked it, shell basically walk out of training without being social so much different than the rest of the girls, he said. Shes a little bit more competitive than the average kid here.
Striedels best attribute, however, may be how clutch shes been in a Fort Lewis uniform. Three of her five goals this season have been game-winners, none more important than her header in the 87th minute Sept. 21 against Colorado Mesa. The tally broke a 1-1 tie and gave Fort Lewis the edge in a tense, back-and-forth affair.
She can deal with pressure; shes not afraid of it, Clarke said. In those situations, shes the one that says, Give me the ball.
Youre taking her with you, said Clarke with a laugh about taking someone into battle.
It all comes back to pressure. Between replacing a star to postseason penalty kicks to late-game heroics, Striedels shown a propensity for elevating her game to the moment. She wouldnt want it any other way.
I definitely love the pressure. I love being in a game situation where its win-at-all-costs, she said. Im willing to be in that spot whenever it comes to me if I can.