“Hi, my name is Leah Wenger. I am 20 years old and I was born in December. And my favorite cheese is Gouda. Maybe. I haven’t decided yet.”
Besides being an indecisive cheese aficionado, Leah Wenger (Harrisonburg, Va./Eastern Mennonite) is a stellar goalkeeper for the Eastern Mennonite University women’s soccer team. She had eight saves in the team’s game against Shenandoah, as well as five stops against Ferrum. Leah’s save percentage is a whopping .763 and she is currently sixth in the ODAC with 58 saves.
“Our defensive line has been incredible this year,” Leah said. “We have so many strong defenders on the team. Every success I have is only due to their hard work, and I couldn’t be more thankful for my back line.”
Head Coach Ted Erickson is also thankful for Leah’s hard work.
“Leah has been extremely consistent for us in goal this season. Being a goalie isn't the easiest position on the field,” Coach Erickson acknowledged. “When a goalie makes a mistake, there typically isn't anyone behind them to help fix the error and so the result is a goal for the opposing team. Leah has done an excellent job of limiting those errors this year and allowing us to have more chances to win games this year.”
This is Leah’s third year on the team, and she feels empowered to take on more leadership this season.
“Being an upperclassmen now I feel like I’ve been much more confident in myself, and I feel that improving my play, even if it's just making a split second decision. And I feel like I can mentor to the younger players, too.”
The team graduated 10 seniors last year. Leah feels that the young team this season has been able to gel and work together well.
“I think that we are able to work better together because there’s less of a divide,” she explained, “less of a ‘you’re old, you know better’ sort of thing.”
Leah spent last spring on cross cultural in India, and found summer training to be a good way to ease the culture shock.
“When I got back I started regularly working out and going to the gym, and that was like a really good way for me to integrate myself back into the American culture and it helped me to have a purpose here,” she said.
Leah is double majoring in psychology and vocal performance, with an honors minor. She is excited that her future could hold anything from neuropsychology to opera.
“I’ve decided that I don’t want to have the same career my whole life and I think that’s an important decision to have made. I want to embrace the opportunities that come my way and that fall into my lap,” she said. “I want to do big things, but I don’t know what those are, and that’s fine. So I just take it as it comes.”
The question of free time made Leah get philosophical.
“Ha. I laugh at the concept of free time. I don’t believe in free time. If I treat the time that I’m ‘free’ different than the time that I’m in classes or doing homework or something then it’s just such a different lifestyle for both of them.”
She paused thoughtfully.
“I can be free when I’m doing homework. I can be happy and curious and wanting to learn when I’m in class, and that's just as joyful for me as reading a book.”
She also likes to listen to music and sleep.
“Sleep. I love to sleep. Sleep is great.”
Leah is excited to see where her team goes in the future.
“I think we have a lot of great opportunity to build in the next couple of years,” she said. “I think that so often people don’t expect us to be great, people being other teams, so that plays to our advantage in that we really have nothing to lose...like to them it’s going to be an easy win, but we can flip the tables upside down, you know what I’m saying??”
This Saturday’s game against Washington and Lee will determine whether EMU’s team gets into the ODAC Tournament. They need to at least tie the game to make it into postseason play.
“If we just leave everything that we have on the field...then the season will be a success either way,” Leah declared. “Yeah, I think this has been a successful season and it will stay that way no matter how far we get in the postseason because I think that our future is bright.”
--- by Elizabeth Nisly, EMU Sports Information Writing Intern