For a girl who says she’s “really bad” at interviews, you would think some experience would come with the amount of talent she brings to the soccer field every day for the Elon University women’s soccer team.

Kimmie Krauss is a junior midfielder on the women’s soccer team. Throughout her career at Elon, she has played in all 54 games the team has played since 2010. Of those, she’s started all but three.

When asked if she had any regrets about coming to Elon, her answer was simple.

“No, none,” she said. “But could you imagine if I did? That would be terrible.”

Making a decision

Turn back the clocks a couple of years to Krauss’ sophomore year at Washington Township High School in southern New Jersey, just 30 minutes from Philadelphia. Krauss was playing for her club team, FC Delco, based in Pennsylvania, when her team came to Winston-Salem for a showcase tournament. That’s when she thought Elon head coach Chris Neal first noticed her.

She was right.

“We first saw her in Winston-Salem,” Neal said. “Then we saw her out in Las Vegas and again down in Disney.”

Being a sophomore, Krauss was still young, but Neal knew he needed to keep an eye on her.

By the end of the first semester of her junior year in high school, Neal said that’s when he knew he wanted her at Elon.

“We knew,” Neal said. “No question about it, we knew.”

According to Krauss, there were three schools in contention: Elon, St. Joseph’s and St. John’s.

So what helped her decide to come to Elon?

“I really wanted a new experience,” Krauss said. “I wanted something different, so I picked Elon. I came here on my visits, loved it, and that was it.”

Now, as a junior at Elon, she’s been a vital part of the Phoenix’s success on the field.

Change on the pitch

Krauss is naturally a right-footed left back. For anyone who knows soccer, the left back usually stays on defense and doesn’t go forward  much.  It’s a different story for Krauss, though.

When she came to Elon, Neal moved her to the left midfield position, which aided her habits of moving forward with the pace of play. But just eight games into her freshman season, Neal realized it was time for a change and moved her back to her natural position of left back.

“During the away Samford game, he put me at left back, and I pretty much stuck there, which I like,” Krauss said. “I like stepping up and reading the play because I can tell when the other team is going to pass the ball, but I still like getting forward though. I love being aggressive.”

Krauss goes forward so much that it’s something the Phoenix use to their advantage. According to Neal, it’s also a big reason why Elon recruited her.

“She’s the type of player that, on the attacking side of things, doesn’t need to be told when to go forward,” Neal said. “She just naturally gets it. She’s an absolute integral part of our attack. I’m sure other teams are watching video and trying to figure out ways to deal with her, but she’s not easy.”

Through the rest of the season and into next year, Neal said he might experiment with her position a little bit to keep her fresh, among other reasons.

“Sometimes at that left back position, she spends so much energy going forward that she makes the defending side of things tough,” Neal said. “We’ve experimented, and we still may down the road. It’s just that a lot of forwards just don’t like to defend, and she takes full advantage of that by going forward.”

Improvements abound

Through her two-plus years donning the maroon and gold, Krauss knows she’s improved, but between her and her coach, they both said she’s improved in more ways than one.

[box]Kimmie Krauss Player Card

Class: Junior Height: 5’ 6” Hometown: Sewell, NJ Club Team: FC Delco Sting (Pa.) Games: 54 Starts: 51 Career Goals: 5 First Goal: Aug. 27, 2010 vs. Campbell[/box]“I feel like my biggest improvement is my communication skills both on the field and off the field with my team,” Krauss said. “When I first came here, I kind of stuck with my class. I didn’t really get out there and talk to everyone within the team. Now, I’ve become closer with the whole team.”

Neal said it’s her character on the field.

“Kimmie’s matured as a person so much,” Neal said. “Her understanding is so much better. Her freshman year, it was just caution to the wind. Now, she’s learned how to take care of the ball better, and with that maturity, she’s making better decisions.”

In addition to maturity, Neal said she’s also improved her abilities with her left foot.

“She’s not a true lefty, but her left footed serve has gotten very, very good,” Neal said. “So much so that now, opponents will overcompensate to try and block that left foot. She’ll just chop it back to her right foot and get it into the dangerous area.”

Being an aggressive defender consistently moving up and down the field, Krauss runs a lot. Her teammates notice how much she runs, but it’s something Krauss said just naturally happens and she “doesn’t even realize it.”

“Everyone tells me that I run a lot on the field,” Krauss said. “I don’t even think about it. I don’t even know how I do it. It just happens. It’s fun getting forward even though I know I have to get back.”

Neal said he feels the same way, but knows it’s something she’s going to have to control so she doesn’t “break down” at some point during the home stretch of the season, hence the potential position experiments.

“With all of the runs she makes out of the back and getting back, if I had to estimate, she’s probably putting in between six and seven miles a game,” Neal said. “She runs a whole lot. She might as well have a big ‘S’ on her chest because of it.”§

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