Chartiers Valley grad Tolmer excited for upcoming women's soccer season at CMU
College is a challenge for many freshmen — especially if they choose to play a sport while attending one of the most rigorous academic schools in the country.
That is what Chartiers Valley grad Emily Tolmer faced when she enrolled at Carnegie Mellon in 2015 to major in biomedical engineering and play soccer. For Tartans coach Yon Struble, two things were clear: Tolmer had the capability to contribute to his program, but, he said, she was unprepared for what he expected from his players.
Tolmer appeared in only four matches as a freshman.
“We had a discussion about it,” Struble said. “She didn't get down about it. Coming back for her sophomore year, she was driven.”
Last season, Tolmer, a defender, appeared in 16 of 18 matches, making 12 starts. She scored two goals — one an overtime winner against Emory — and had an assist.
She helped the Tartans (11-6-1) earn an at-large bid in the NCAA Division III Tournament and finish No. 23 in the national rankings.
“I just kind of had a moment of clarity,” Tolmer said. “(Me and the coaches) had a very candid conversation. They said I can choose what would happen. I just worked really, really hard the summer before coming in (to sophomore year). I just continued to push myself to do more than what was expected.”
Tolmer's effort made an impression on her teammates, who voted her a captain for 2017. Struble was equally impressed and said he believes she can be even better this season.
She has the physical gifts. At nearly 6 feet tall, she has an advantage over most of her competitors when it comes to winning balls out of the air. She also has a powerful leg that Struble said consistently can drive a ball 40 to 50 yards down the field when necessary.
Her intangibles have proven to be just as important. Struble called her a smart player who has an insatiable desire to compete.
“She plays to win,” he said. “She just has that look in her eyes that, ‘I'm going to get this ball, and if I have to run you over to get it …' ”
Tolmer and the Tartans are hoping to run over the opposition on the way to an NCAA title. Her freshman year, CMU made it to the Round of 16, which made last season's first-round exit — a 3-1 loss to Penn State Berks that saw the Tartans give up more than two goals in a game for the only time all season — disappointing.
She said last year's team had the talent but perhaps not the mental focus that was required for a deep tournament run.
This year's team, she said, is more determined. She is anticipating a special season and is working to be a big part of it.
“It's not just saying you want to achieve something but doing the extras you need to do to achieve it,” she said. “It's taking care of the little things and pushing yourself on days you don't feel your best. Those are the days that are really going to get your team to the next level.
“I think I'm more excited about soccer this season than I ever have been about soccer in my entire career.”