Samarzich still an avid leader even when not on the field


Tanya Samarzich is UK women’s soccer’s leading goal scorer this season, but will be out for the year after tearing her ACL. Photo submitted by UK Athletics

Abbie Long

Senior forward, team captain and one of the top scorers for the 2017 UK women’s soccer team, Tanya Samarzich suffered a torn ACL in the Sept. 3 game against Florida State and will not return for the remainder of the season.

Fortunately for Samarzich, she has applied and been approved for a medical hardship year for this season. This means she will be able to come back and play for the Cats once again during the 2018 season.

Flashback to her high school career, Samarzich was named the 2013 Inland Valley Player of the Year in Upland, California. She was selected to the all-league first team all four years of her high school career at Upland High, playing in 72 high school games and scoring 91 goals with 52 assists.

Samarzich transferred to UK from the University of Southern California in 2015 after her freshman season. She was a member of the Full Mexican National Team that year and was also on the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup roster. She also competed at the 2010 FIFA Under-17 World Cup and the 2012 FIFA Under-20 World Cup for Mexico.

Her list of awards and accomplishments seems to go on for miles.

During her junior year in 2016, Samarzich led the team in goals with seven in the season. She was also the first UK player since Arin Gilliland in 2013 to score two goals twice in a season.

2017 marked the start of Samarzich’s senior season as a Wildcat. She started the first five games of the season before her injury in the sixth game. During those five games she, yet again, was leading the team in goals with three.

With the natural “go-getter” spirit and the determination in her eyes, it seemed like this was going to be another successful season for Samarzich. Even though her role on this team has changed, co-captain and UK goalkeeper Evangeline Soucie says Samarzich is still a leader for this team.

“She’s a player that works so hard day in and day out to be the best player that she can be,” Soucie said. “Tanya has been great with giving leadership on the sidelines and giving encouragement and making us better, even though she’s not on the field.”

Losing a starting player is not an easy situation to deal with, but Soucie says that the team has been adjusting well thus far. Some of the younger players on the roster have had to take responsibility and score goals in Samarzich’s absence.

“In her absence, we’ve asked some of our freshmen and sophomores to step up, and we’ve challenged them to help fill that role and help us get results,” Soucie said.

Soucie is the only captain out of three that is eligible to play this season. She has done a remarkable job thus far with being a leader during such a difficult time.

Soucie said that she doesn’t really feel any added pressure with Samarzich cheering her and the team from the sidelines.

“Tanya has been doing a great job with responding positively on her end,” Soucie said. “She is pushing us and really getting behind us as a captain to keep the team encouraged and moving forward.”

Samarzich has begun the beginning steps in her road to recovery, and is expected back next season.