Kaufman's Versatility An Asset to Salmon, Bearcats|
Sept. 28, 2011
By Megan Roehm
The women's soccer team is down to just seven more games this season and with players like senior defender Erin Kaufman and five more games on home turf, head coach Michelle Salmon and the Bearcats have the confidence to finish the season strong.
Kaufman, from Wayland, Mass., was recruited to the University of Cincinnati as a defender, but played forward up until last year when she was switched back to a defender as a junior. With experience in all areas of the game and a drive to be the best player she can be, Salmon saw the potential in Kaufman to do great things as a defender and she has not been disappointed.
"It's a huge switch, but from a coach's standpoint, she made it look effortless," Salmon said. "I know her well enough that it wasn't. She is a student of the game at its finest. She just worked on it and asked questions."
With a good understanding of both positions, Kaufman had enough confidence to keep her composure and make the switch, knowing it wouldn't be easy. Though it helps to know the game and the roles of each position, a humble Kaufman credits the support of her coach and her team for her success.
"I think the team helped because when they have confidence in you, it makes you do better for them," she said. "It helped to have the team behind me."
When Kaufman started her freshman year at UC, she didn't play much coming off of an ankle injury, but it only made her work harder. According to Salmon, she went from a player that never played freshman year to getting five minutes a game and eventually beating out the player that was the first sub off the bench. Her hard work and dedication to the game is what got her to where she is now, playing all 90 minutes of every game.
"A lot of freshmen don't know what it takes to get off the bench or get into the game and E.K. always worked really hard," Salmon said. "She really controls the things that she can control so it was a natural progression."
Kaufman said switching to a defender changes her view of the game and the way she plays it, but having played each position before has given her a new appreciation for each player on the field.
"I think it helped that I played defense in the past because I have greater respect for defenders, midfielders and forwards since I know the work that has to go into each position," she said. "I think the transition went well and I was happy I could play as a defender."
Her hardworking and positive attitude makes for the team leader that every coach wants to have on their team. Salmon describes Kaufman as a leader and "one of the smartest soccer players you'll ever meet."
"She's really calm, she sees the field really well and she knows what's going to happen before it happens," Salmon said. "There are a lot of things in soccer that can be coached, but the innate ability of reading something before it develops--that's on a player."
She said every player on the team can turn to Kaufman, whom she sees as "the most reliable, most consistent and the most genuine honest person you'll ever meet."
Kaufman is proud of her team's success and has been there for them on and off the field. She does and will continue to do whatever it takes to be successful and from a coach's point of view, Salmon has seen her hard work pay off.
"At the end of the year when the BIG EAST awards go out, she might not have the stats for `XYZ' award, but in my opinion she's the best defender in the league," Salmon said. "I've seen a lot of good defenders, but there has not been one that we've played this far, halfway through our BIG EAST schedule, that has had a bigger impact on their team than Erin Kaufman has on ours."