The Tufts women’s soccer program prides itself on recruiting incoming freshmen who are ready to make an impact on the team right away. When head coach Martha Whiting brought Lynnfield native Liz Reed on board with the Jumbos, she knew she found a special player.
A former Lynnfield High soccer star currently in her freshman season at Division III Tufts, Reed has made an immediate impact in her first year playing college soccer. The forward has started all 11 of Tufts’ games this season, scoring three goals and dishing two assists while tallying 14 shots on goal.
“We typically have one or two of those freshmen each year,” Whiting, in her 19th season coaching the Jumbos, said. “We try to bring in freshmen to can make an impact. We were hoping Liz could come in and step in right away. You don’t always know how freshmen are going to come in but Liz has hit the ground running and hasn’t looked back.”
A four-year varsity starter for coach Mark Vermont and the Pioneers, Reed joined the Jumbos with an impressive high school soccer resume. Twice she was named the Pioneers’ MVP, while earning Cape Ann League First Team All-Star honors three times. Reed captained the Pioneers in her senior season.
The coaching she received as a Pioneer, Reed said, has paid dividends now that she’s playing collegiately.
“On and off the field, coach Vermont gave me a good baseline of what I should expect going into each game and each practice,” Reed said. “He really helped me develop a good mindset of what it takes to be a good teammate.”
Although Reed has flourished in her freshman season, she anticipated challenges in making the jump from high school to college soccer. The combination of dedicating herself to an offseason training routine and a helpful Tufts coaching staff has made Reed’s jump a smooth one.
“I was definitely nervous,” Reed said. “It was a concern coming into college but I made sure that I woke up early every day over the summer to go to the gym and train in preparation for that transition. The coaches here at Tufts talk to me and they make sure that I’m doing well on the team, they’ve helped make the transition an easy one.
“It has been an excellent experience so far,” Reed added. “The team welcomed me so wonderfully. It has been a fluid transition.”
Reed’s skills on the field and dedication to her craft were enough to earn the trust of Whiting and Tufts coaching staff. The Lynnfield product earned a role as a starting forward for the Jumbos prior to the start of the season, and she doesn’t take it for granted.
“I’m very lucky to have earned this role,” Reed said. “Hopefully I can keep it for the rest of the season. My mindset each day isn’t about being a starter, it’s about helping us reach our goals for the season.”
Reed certainly helped the Jumbos reach their season objectives when she scored her first collegiate goal in an eventual 2-1 overtime win at NESCAC rival Amherst on September 30. Tufts trailed 1-0 in the closing minutes of the game before Reed fired a shot into the net to send the game into overtime, when the Jumbos added another score for the win.
“As a freshman, I couldn’t have asked for anything more,” Reed said. “Especially to help send my team into overtime. There were five minutes left in the game and I’m glad I was able to help the team win. It was an incredible moment.”
For Whiting, seeing Reed find the net for the first time served as a culmination of her freshman star’s hard work throughout the season.
“As a forward, her job is to score goals and she’s so hard on herself,” Whiting said. “It was great for her to finally get that goal and get that monkey off her back. She’d been looking for that goal for a while and she was doing so well in all the other areas of the game. She has been working so hard in practice and getting better every game.”
Aside from soccer, Reed’s also working at mastering the “student” part of “student-athlete.” Dedication to academics, Reed noted, is a big part of what it takes to be a successful student-athlete at Tufts.
“The courses here are challenging but Lynnfield High helped prepare me for college,” Reed said. “It’s a lot of work but it’s manageable. At Tufts, we’re student-athletes so being a student comes first. So far, the semester has been really good.”
Now that Tufts (6-2-3) has reached the second half of its season, the Jumbos are locked in on bringing home a NESCAC championship. The Jumbos are 4-1-2 this season in conference play.
“We have to keep the energy up,” Reed said. “We have to keep each other motivated and ready for each challenge that comes at us. It’s not always going to be easy but I think we feel ready to compete and play our opponents.
“Opponents can expect a battle,” Reed added. “It’s not easy to beat us because we do everything we can to win. We’re a smart team and we’re always ready to go.”