Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass women’s soccer’s Sverrisdóttir balances a soccer career between two different countries

(Araz Havan/Daily Collegian)
(Araz Havan/Daily Collegian)

For many collegiate athletes, their college years offer them their last chance to play at a competitive level. But Massachusetts women’s soccer captain Rebekka Sverrisdóttir hopes this is just the beginning.

Sverrisdóttir, a Reykjavik, Iceland native hopes to continue her soccer career in Iceland after school.

“Joining the national team after school is definitely the dream,” Sverrisdóttir said. “I think it’s a possibility especially since I was a member of the U-17 and U-19 teams. People know me.”

Sverrisdóttir was a junior co-captain for the Minutewomen this past fall, anchoring a backline that helped UMass post six shutouts.

“(Sverrisdóttir) is a very good leader and captain,” Minutewomen coach Ed Matz said. “Her personality makes it easy for her teammates to approach her. I appreciate her strong knowledge of the game.”

The soccer culture in Iceland is much different than it is in America, as not all athletes choose to go play in school. Sverrisdóttir, however, found her way to UMass.

“I made a video of myself playing soccer and sent it to a bunch of schools that I picked based on the soccer program and location,” Sverrisdóttir said. “I wanted to be on the East Coast, a little bit closer to Iceland. I sent a lot of emails to schools; some replied, some didn’t, and I ended up here.”

“I’ve definitely made the right decision to come (to UMass),” Sverrisdóttir said. “It’s been a really great experience and it’s definitely good for me to go here. I work on things I need to improve on and then go home.”

Home for Sverrisdóttir involves more competitive soccer than at UMass. She is a member of the Icelandic women’s club team, KR Reykjavík, which is in the premier league Úrvalsdeild kvenna.

“When I go back to Iceland I play in the summer league there,” Sverrisdóttir said. “That’s when the coaches get a chance to see me play.”

The process of choosing the Icelandic national team is predicated on the coaches seeing all the athletes play. For the American national team, tryouts are the main platform in which players showcase their skills. Due to Iceland’s population of about 300,000, the national team coaches can hand-pick their squads.

“I have been involved in Rebekka´s coaching for four years,” said Sverrisdóttir’s KR and Icelandic U-19 coach Björgvin Karl Gunnarsson. “I think she could go all the way to the Icelandic national team as a right back.”

“I have seen a lot of Icelandic players go to the United States to play soccer and some have improved and others have vanished in time,” Gunnarsson said. “Rebekka has improved after the move to UMass, she has the right mind set and always works hard. I would say that it is a mixture of playing in Iceland and playing for UMass that has made her the player she is today. So lots of credit to the staff at UMass for their players’ development.”

Matz said he had an idea he was getting a quality player in Sverrisdóttir after doing a bit of research.

“I had spoken to the national team coach of Iceland in recruiting Rebekka,” Matz said. “He gave a great evaluation of Rebekka, ‘Ice’ as her teammates here have nicknamed her. I knew I was getting a very hard working defender with exceptional man-marking skills and a great attitude.”

According to Matz, this effort has not gone unnoticed by her teammates or opponents.

“Ice is one of the hardest working players I have ever coached,” Matz said. “She not only has the respect of her coaches and teammates but also all the coaches in the Atlantic 10 Conference. She is the rare player who makes her teammates better through her hard work and skill.”

Preparing for the national stage

The Icelandic women’s national team is currently the No. 20 team in the FIFA women’s world rankings. While it has never qualified for the World Cup, it is trending upwards. At the 2013 UEFA Women’s Championship, Iceland took its first point in a major championship in a draw against Norway in the opening game.

Becoming a member of the national team will be something Sverrisdóttir will have to wait on, as she still has one more season with the Minutewomen. But according to her, this time allows for further improvement.

“There are a lot of things I can work on,” Sverrisdóttir said. “I want to work on my free kicks in the midfield. It’s my job to create opportunity up front and get better balls up there and create more chances for my team.”

“I’m a very competitive person,” Sverrisdóttir said. “I hate losing. I will do anything and will never give up on trying to win.”

UMass finished its 2014 campaign with a 5-9-5 record and a first round exit in the A-10 tournament. Sverrisdóttir said she has lofty expectations for her senior season.

“We are going to be A-10 champions my senior year, that’s the goal,” she said.

Despite her future aspirations, Matz said he doesn’t see it affecting her preparation with the Minutewomen.

“She really doesn’t talk much about the national team,” Matz said. “I would say she is more focused on doing anything she can to help UMass soccer succeed, working hard on her studies, and returning to Iceland with her degree next December.”

The Icelandic national team would be an incredible accomplishment, but until then, Sverrisdóttir is just happy to be at UMass.

“The culture here is different in every way,” Sverrisdóttir said. “People are really nice here, more polite, holding the doors for you, saying ‘Hi how are you?’ on the streets. You don’t see that in Iceland.”

“The coaches here have been great and I have a really good relationship with all of them,” Sverrisdóttir said. “I’m really happy that I ended up here. It has been a really good experience. Everyone has been so welcoming; I have to thank my team for that, we are a family.”

Griffin Carroll can be reached at [email protected].


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    Joben ThekidNov 25, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    What an article. This kid has the innovative mind that the collegian needs!