EVERGREEN EXTRAS - Women's Soccer Standout Has Big Heart, Big Ability

Oct. 17, 2007

By Terence Foy Staff Writer

Her story is one about heart - from beginning to end.

Junior Sarra Moller, a captain for Loyola's women's soccer team, anchors the defense and has helped lead the Greyhounds to a 5-5-2 record a year after graduating one of the most successful senior classes in school history.

But at 5-foot-3, her teammates, coaches and opponents remark at her ability and marvel at the plays she makes.

"In her time here, she's played against some of the top forwards in the country - players that were bigger, stronger, faster than her," Head Coach John Byford said. "But her will to win levels that playing field. Where the athletic matchups are against her, she finds a way to get a stop. She just refuses to give up."

As the heart of the defense, Moller deserves credit for the Hounds' ability to stay competitive in every game during their non-conference schedule.

Outside of a lopsided win against Richmond and a two-goal loss to Marquette, each of Loyola's early season games was a one-goal affair. As the offense continues to gel, Moller is the rock in the back.

"She's the player that covers everyone else," Byford said of Moller's filling the role of defensive leader that Caitlin McCusker, a senior last season, previously held.

"She's talking to her teammates and trying to keep them focused, but if one of them gets beat Sarra refuses to let anyone get past her, and I think the rest of the backs know that."

Moller, a two-time All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference First Team honoree, says that she's excited for the rest of the season's prospects, and puts an emphasis on focusing on each game one at a time.

"I think in the beginning (the defense) was a little shaky because (sophomore center back Heather) Cooke and I hadn't really gotten used to each other, but I think the last couple of games have gone really well," she said. "We've been talking a lot more and trying to stay more organized."

It should not come as much of a surprise that Moller is the heart of this year's Greyhound squad, because the game is so clearly at her core.

"The team likes to make fun of her that soccer will be over at one point, and what's she going to do then because now she just eats, sleeps, and drinks it," Byford said.

Moller, who was named the MAAC Defensive Player of the Year as a freshman in 2005, has no trouble clearly laying out why she pursues soccer so passionately, even if it means waking up at 6 a.m. for practice.

"Soccer is an escape from everything," she said. "When you step onto the field, you just kind of forget about everything else, like school and anything else that's bothering you."

Byford thinks the story that best illustrates Moller's passion and competitive flair comes from when she had to step off of the field for the last time as a freshman in 2005.

"We lost in the semifinals of the conference tournament (2-1 to Fairfield)," he said. "She was inconsolable. You expect that from a senior, but she took it harder than anybody else, and that's a measure of the kid."

With a goal clearly set for walking off the field one game later and two goals happier at the MAAC Championships this November, Byford can take a page from his tough-as-nails center-back and take heart - he shouldn't have to do much consoling.