After conquering the freshman year jitters, sophomore soccer standout Emily Stauffer is no longer the new kid on the block.
In her debut year, Stauffer's impact on the Crimson's offense made eyes turn and mouths drop as she led the talent-rich Crimson squad in scoring with six goals and six assists. By the end of the year, Stauffer had racked up Ivy League Rookie of the Year honors and a first-team All-Ivy selection.
It was easy to forget that she was only a freshman: Stauffer was the focus of offense. Yet while becoming a familiar name and face in the world of Harvard athletics, New Canaan, Conn.-resident Stauffer was also becoming acclimated to the unfamiliar college arena, where papers, exams, academic stress and Union food are a way of life.
"It was tough," Stauffer said. "I came in and right away there were new things coming in at me. Last year I was overwhelmed."
It may have been tough. But freshman nerves did not prevent Stauffer from helping the Harvard squad to a second-place Ivy League finish and its first NCAA appearance since 1994.
With the start of a new year, Stauffer's comfort level both on the field and off has grown, which should bode well for the squad's quest for an Ivy League title.
"I feel very different now as a sophomore," Stauffer said. "Last year I was trying to fit into how the team played. I didn't have much composure, and I wasn't 100 percent confident on the field. Since I feel like I have a year of experience behind me, I can focus on building my play."
Stauffer bolstered her experience this summer on the East team at the U.S. Olympic Festival, which attracts the best women's soccer players in the country. Stauffer helped the East gain the silver medal.
The excitement level of Stauffer and the rest of the young squad are unprecedented this season. The excitement grew out of a game Stauffer deems both the best and worst experience of 1994. The game was against Brown, it was the final match-up of the season and the Ivy League title was on the line.
In the second half, Harvard had a 3-1 lead and a soccer epiphany. Stauffer and the rest of the hardworking Crimson squad realized that the Ivy League title could be theirs.
"I remember looking at our captain Genevieve [Chelius] and thinking, 'Hey, we can do this.' Of course, the team wanted it badly."
Brown snatched the championship away with seven minutes to go, tying the game on a penalty kick. Even though Harvard wound up losing the title, they haven't stopped believing. But they haven't quite gotten over it, either.
"We held a lot of bitterness from Brown," Stauffer said. "It's definitely the toughest game I've ever lost. I was so upset after that game, and I decided that I was going to save all of the anger and bring it onto the field this year.
So, after a season of trying to fit in--and not just on the soccer field--Emily Stauffer is not a freshman phenom anymore. In 1995, Stauffer will have to settle for sophomore sensation. For the Harvard women's soccer team, that--and the Ivy League title--will be just fine.