Freshmen to watch this season

First-year athletes who are making a difference on their teams

Elin Johnson and Lexi Kerr

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MEN’S SOCCER – CONNOR HEINTZ #21

Connor Heintz has played in all eight games this fall and started in five, putting him in the top ten for leading minutes played on the team. He also has one assist, which he gave to freshman Gerardo Perez in the team’s away game against Walla Walla University. He hopes to get a goal in an upcoming game.

At Linfield, he plays forward for the men’s soccer team. The soccer team is one of the reasons Heintz came to Linfield.

Heintz is from Maple Valley, Washington, where he played soccer at Tahoma High School and  for the club Eastside F.C.

He said he loves that he gets to continue his soccer career while at Linfield. He not only enjoys the coaching staff, but the other men on the team as well. He described the season as fun and spoke highly of his teammates.

Before every game he “rocks out” to really loud music to get in to the right headspace. “It gets me pumped up for the game!” Heintz said.

He said his goal for this season is to help out the team in any way he can and help the team win games.Heintz said being on the soccer team has helped him become more connected to the Linfield community.

 

WOMEN’S SOCCER – ASHLEY GULDAGER #22

Ashley Guldager has played in and started every game this season. Guldager has played soccer since she was five and even though she played a lot of sports growing up, soccer was always her favorite. It is the only sport she plays at Linfield, where she plays outside defender. Guldager was recruited by the women’s soccer head coach, Cole McCool, but ultimately came to Linfield for the academics.

Guldager said that it has been a big transition for her to collegiate soccer. She said that it is a lot more competitive at this level. However, she likes the competition. Guldager said that the transition was scary at first but everyone has been welcoming. She likes the diverse coaching staff because they can teach her a variety of skills.

She says that the soccer team is “the best family.” One of her favorite moments from this season was when the soccer team won their first game.

She said that she was so nervous before her first game, but when she saw everyone in the crowd who had come to the game, it eased her nerves. Guldager said that she is not as nervous about games anymore.

Guldager said that she has felt under pressure because she wants to keep her starting spot.

Her pregame routine consists of a particular pattern: taking electrolyte pills, drinking Gatorade and water, and putting on her cleats and shin guards in a specific order.

This season Guldager hopes to create deeper bonds with her teammates and grow as a player. She wants to continue to have passion for the game and play all four years at Linfield. Guldager advises Linfield to watch for the evident chemistry that is on the field when the women’s soccer team plays.

 

WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL – ANI KELIIHELEUA #15

Anikelea Keliiheleua, who goes by Ani on the court, is the third highest in offensive points on the teams statistics after playing this weekend against Willamette and Lewis & Clark.

Keliiheleua first heard of Linfield because the former coach, Shane Kimura, was a close family friend. Ultimately, she came to Linfield to play volleyball and study in the pre-medical program.

Playing in 10 out of the 12 games this season, Keliiheleua has racked up 66 kills, which are spikes that go unreturned by the opposing team. She is right behind sophomore Regan Dean with 78 kills and senior Audrey Hyem with 68 kills.

Keliiheleua attributes her success to her grandfather.

“He coached me for three years and taught me basically everything I know. Everything on the ground level I attribute to him.”

Her volleyball career started back in seventh grade. Keliiheleua played for three years on the Amity High School varsity team and four years for the club team, Capital City Elite.

Playing volleyball in college wasn’t a huge adjustment for Keliiheleua, but she said the team is going through a lot of adjustments with the new coach. Speaking for the underclassmen, she said they are all trying to figure it out. But Keliiheleua is determined to improve this season.

“Looking at the Northwest Conference, we’re ranked pretty low. I think we can turn it around and win more than people think,” she said.

Keliiheleua said she is happy with her performance thus far in the season and enjoying being on the team with the other women. Her proudest accomplishment is having the leading number of kills during the preseason. She hopes to keep leading in offensive statistics, as well as maintain her spot a top player.

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Freshmen to watch this season