Scrolling Headlines:

UMass men’s basketball falters in the second half, falling to George Washington 83-67 Thursday -

February 24, 2017

UPDATE: SGA announces second and third artist for ‘Mullins Live!’ -

February 23, 2017

Divest UMass and STPEC host panel on building ‘solidarity economies’ in the Trump era -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s basketball losing streak extends to 10 games after loss to URI -

February 23, 2017

Sixth annual Advocacy Day set to take place March 1 -

February 23, 2017

Panel discusses racial, sexual and psychological violence in response to art exhibit -

February 23, 2017

Judy Dixon enters final season with UMass tennis with simple message: One match at a time -

February 23, 2017

UMass baseball enduring early-season limitation in playing in New England -

February 23, 2017

Minutewomen softball begins season with cross-country travel, string of tournaments -

February 23, 2017

UMass baseball looks to bounce back from disappointing 2016 season -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse senior Hannah Murphy is Angela McMahon’s latest legend in the making -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse senior defenders accept leadership roles in quest for ninth consecutive Atlantic 10 Championship -

February 23, 2017

Kelsey McGovern rejoins UMass women’s lacrosse as an assistant coach after starring for Minutewomen -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse looks to continue improving throughout 2017 season -

February 23, 2017

Spring Sports Special Issue 2017 -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse defense relying on senior leadership with new faces in starting lineup -

February 23, 2017

UMass softball fills holes left by seniors with freshmen for 2017 -

February 23, 2017

The Hart of the Lineup -

February 23, 2017

UMass softball prepares for a long, busy season in 2017 -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse defenseman Tyler Weeks makes his way back from ACL injury -

February 23, 2017

Ward adjusting to playing in the United States

Courtesy UMass Media Relations

In England, soccer is not just a sport; it is a passion, a way of life, a facet in English society that sits on a higher plateau than any other sport. Surprisingly, however, most gifted female soccer players come to the United States to make a name for themselves in the game they love.

Take freshman defender Annie Ward, for example.

In her native England, Ward played club soccer for Sheffield United in a stunning career that saw her earn the title of team captain, the manager’s Player of the Year award and a league cup title. After her final year for Sheffield, Ward was left to wonder whether or not soccer was going to play as dominant a role as it had in years past.

“Women’s soccer is almost non-existent back home,” Ward said.  “Women’s sports are not nearly as developed or as prominent in England as they are here in America. If I stayed home, I wouldn’t be able to go nearly as far in my sport and I feel that while you are young, you want to be as good as you can be. I feel like I can be at my best playing here.”

With that, Annie made up her mind and decided she was going to study and play for Massachusetts. From the minute she earned a spot on the roster, she realized that there was still much to learn about her favorite sport.

“Here, it’s a much different way of playing the game,” Ward said. “Soccer’s much more tactical, it’s a lot quicker, there’s more offense and there’s more passing. The players are very strong, very conditioned and the competition is much tougher. The transition was difficult given the ball in the air style of play that I grew up with.”

Though the transition may have been a struggle at first, Ward is fitting in nicely with a young and eager UMass team.

“We’re coming together well,” Ward said. “We’re a younger team that brings a lot of energy to win and the coaches are very good as well.  Even though we just had our bad week [losses to Michigan and Oakland], we’ll rebound strongly and look to hold our own in the Atlantic 10.

“We have great capabilities, we just need to come together completely,” Ward added. “I know that if we go into every single game and compete to those capabilities, we’ll finish the season strong.”

As she looked back on her experiences of the season so far, Ward knew instantly which ones would always stay with her.

“Starting against Washington was the best experience for me so far,” Ward said. “Even though we lost the game 3-1, just stepping on the field and realizing that I was here to play on a level that I never thought I’d play at before really showed me what I’m capable of.”

When asked about whether or not she would bring what she learns here back home with her, Ward could not help but smile.

“I’m a more knowledgeable player in playing here,” she said. “I know that, if I went back to my old team, I could bring so much for them. It’s hard to change the perception of women’s soccer in England, but I’d love to try.”

David Martin can be reached at dmmartin@student.umass.edu.

Leave A Comment