When the 2021 preseason ended for Hopkins soccer, the nerves started to kick in for then-freshman forward Katie Sullivan. After a successful high school career, the transition to the collegiate level was one she was excited for but also uncertain about.
Those doubts went away quickly when women’s soccer faced off against Randolph-Macon College and the University of Mary Washington to open up the 2021 season. Sullivan scored goals in the first two games of her career.
Those two games would set the tone for her entire career up to this point. After tallying eight points in two wins last week, Sullivan was named Centennial Conference Women’s Soccer Offensive Player of the Week.
Sullivan started in 19 of 20 games last season, totaling 25 points with 10 goals and 5 assists on the year. Sullivan also had multiple game-winning goals last season as women’s soccer finished with an amazing 16-2-2 record.
She became the eighth Hopkins freshman to be selected for the first team All-Centennial. She was also named the Centennial Conference Rookie of the Year. Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine last season turning out the way it did.
In an interview with The News-Letter, Sullivan reflected on her stellar freshman season and how this year is shaping up to be another incredible campaign for her and the team.
“My mindset coming in was ‘I just want to be a starter and contribute to the team,’” she said. “I didn’t think I could achieve that.”
In just six games this season, Sullivan has recorded seven goals and three assists for a total of 17 total points. She credits the team’s atmosphere for her success.
“The team welcomes new players right away. In high school, teams view freshmen as sort of ‘bottom of the barrel’ and make you seem like you don’t matter as much,“ she said. “When I went to college, everyone was equal and they respect how everyone plays.”
Last season, she only totaled five assists on the year. Her coaches approached her this summer and told her that some new teammates with great crossing ability were joining the club. Sullivan took the opportunity to work on her finishing.
The work has paid dividends, as she is certainly on pace to surpass her assist totals from last year.
With the way she has performed to start the season, it’s safe to say she is in a zone: a zone all athletes tap into when they reach a stretch of excellent performances. However, according to Sullivan, there is something different about this stretch.
“At the beginning of the season, I was doing pretty well, but I wouldn't say I was in that zone,“ she said. “Now I have the confidence from my past performances, and that is what has helped me really get into the zone.”
Being one of the best teams in the conference, Sullivan and the team knows what it’s like to play with a target on their back every game.
“We know teams are going to play their best against us. Early in the season, we struggle with starting off strong, but we’ve definitely improved in that aspect,“ she said.
Women’s soccer remains unbeaten on the year, boasting a 4-0-2 record. Despite losing in the NCAA tournament last year, Sullivan is optimistic about the potential of the team.
“In the Carnegie Mellon game, we were down twice, and we came back to tie the game twice,“ she said. “I think that shows how resilient we are. Sometimes that’s hard to overcome in a game and last year it was something we struggled with. But after that game, I believe this can be a successful year for us.”
With Sullivan at the helm of such a dynamic offense, the sky truly is the limit.