A senior and three-year starter in central midfield, Koziol has played a key role in the Pioneers winning consecutive Central League titles and a District 1 4A Championship, and qualifying for the PIAA AAAA State Tournament twice, including a trip to the PIAA 4A state final last fall. This year, she bounced back from a torn ACL suffered in the PIAA 4A state final last fall and has been a key factor (tallying three goals, five assists in nine games, takes most of the team’s corners and close-range free kicks) in leading the Pioneers to the Central League tournament semifinal. Last fall, she received All-Central League, All-Main Line and Daily Local News All-Area honors. Her father, Joe Koziol, played midfield for the Villanova University men’s soccer team from 1987-1990. Off the pitch, Koziol participates in the Key Club at Conestoga.
Q: How do you see your role as a team leader – on the field as a central midfielder, and off the field as a senior and third-year starter in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: I just try to bring a positive attitude to training and games as much as I possibly can. I try to remind my team that even though this season is not the same as normal, we need to make the most of it. My goal as a senior leader is to never bring my teammates down on the field. I want them to know that it is okay to make mistakes and take chances. I try to give others constructive criticism and use my voice on the field to keep my team motivated and organized.
Q: You suffered a torn ACL in the PIAA 4A state final last fall against Boyertown, then worked on your rehab, then along came the COVID-19 pandemic. Tell us a little about your rehab since the start of the pandemic.
A: Since my ACL injury I have been working very hard in recovery to come back stronger than I was before. Once COVID-19 came into play in March and got very serious, I was no longer able to go into physical therapy anymore. I had to do exercises every day at home and make sure I stayed on track in recovery. Finally after two months, I was able to go back to physical therapy while wearing a mask. I had to make sure to stay very disciplined and do everything I was supposed to do to come back as strong as possible.
Q: Tell us a little about your soccer training since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. What have you found to be the biggest challenge to your training during the pandemic, and how did you handle that?
A: We definitely haven’t been able to train and do nearly the amount of stuff we used to do including having a preseason in August. We were lucky enough to have a season at all, but we started in late September with tryouts, so we definitely didn’t have the same amount of time to prepare like we usually do. We normally used the preseason to get fit and work on our cardio and strength while also working on team chemistry and team bonding, but we didn’t have that this year. It made it difficult in the beginning of the season to play well as a team, but we have done an amazing job and I feel like our team has really come together now that we are near the end of our season.
Q: What do you like best about the central midfield position? Who have been your biggest soccer mentors?
A: My favorite thing about being a central midfielder is that I’m the link between defense and attack. I love being in the middle of the field and being able to constantly work to get into a position to receive and pass the ball. I love being able lead the offensive gameplay playing the No. 10 positions and using my creativity on and off the ball to create changes for others and myself. My biggest soccer mentor is my dad, who played at Villanova and was also a midfielder.
Q: What do you think is the strongest aspect of your game? What part of your game are you working on the most currently?
A: I would say the strongest aspects of my game are my vision, fast play, technical ability, good decision making, and my distribution. Currently, I am working most on taking more players on, getting more shots off on half chances, using my strength, and winning more 50/50 balls.
Q: Tell us a little about your pre-game preparation the day of a game.
A: I make sure I drink water the night before and all day on game day. I make sure to stretch out well and visualize what I want to achieve in the game to be the best version of myself possible.
Q: You wear uniform jersey No. 3 for Conestoga. Why did you pick this number?
A: I picked this number because it has always been my favorite number and it was also my dad’s number when he played in college. I look up to him a lot and he has always been my biggest supporter on and off the field.
Q: What is your favorite course at Conestoga? What do you think you might want to major in at college? Is there a career field that particularly interests you at the present time?
A: My favorite course at Conestoga has been my AP psych class. I find it very interesting and I love trying to better understand human behavior and mental processes and learning more about how we think, act, and feel. A career I am very interested in is physical therapy. I love helping and being around people. I have been injured many times in my life time and spent countless days in physical therapy. My physical therapists I have worked with have made a huge impact on me and inspired me to want to pursue physical therapy as my career.
Fun facts – Sophie Koziol
Favorite TV show: Stranger Things.
Favorite movie: Bridesmaids.
Favorite athlete: Morgan Gautrat (nee Brian).
Favorite team: Philadelphia Union.
Favorite place to visit: The beach.
Favorite pre-game meal: Chicken Caprese sandwich from Tropical Smoothie.
(To be selected as Main Line Girls Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by her coach.)