One-on-One with Tatiana Saunders '15
I sat down with women’s soccer goalie Tatiana Saunders ’15 before the team’s season finale against Cornell University, which it lost 1-0. Saunders, reigning Ivy League women’s soccer player of the week, has had a strong season, allowing 11 goals in 15 games and notching seven shutouts.
How did it feel to be named Ivy League Player of the Week?
TS: It was really rewarding and nice that they recognized a goalkeeper. Sometimes they only recognize forwards. Also, I would like to give a huge congrats to Corey Delaney ’16 who became Top Drawer Soccer player of the week. I’d like to think that they’re recognizing all of our hard work, especially my defense. We’re one big unit out there.
What’s your take on the season?
TS: It’s been a great season. It’s our first with [head coach Ron Rainey]. Each day we’re getting better and better, and just seeing what he’s accomplished in his first season is mind blowing. I’m so excited to see where he takes this program.
Was there anything that made a difference for you in your performance this past week (against the University of Massachusetts at Lowell)?
TS: Ron has been confident in me and confident in our backline. We see that confidence and it gives us confidence. His belief in us has propelled us.
What did you do in the off-season to prepare?
TS: I play for New York Athletic Club. It’s a WPSL team. I’ve been playing with them since I was 15. We have a summer league that consists of mostly college students, some high school or post-college players. We play against similar teams, but we also play against pro reserve teams. It’s great competition and is a super fun league. So I have that and then individual goal training. We also get a fitness packet, which you follow. This summer was unique though because I also had an internship, so I had to balance the long hours of working as well as running home and having to do my fitness packet or go to practice.
What’s it like being a senior on the team? Have you had to take on any new leadership roles?
TS: Being a goalkeeper, you typically are a leader already just because your position is very vocal. Since it’s my last season, I’ve given it my all.
If you play after college, any idea where you would go?
TS: I’ve been thinking about it and I’m not sure if I want to stay in the U.S. or play abroad, somewhere like Sweden or Australia. I do like to travel, so I think it would be nice to kill two birds with one stone and play soccer abroad. I’m also doing corporate recruiting, so trying to balance both things.
Do you have any pregame rituals or superstitions?
TS: My biggest superstition is that my mom is bad luck. She hasn’t seen me play since I was 8. I told her I wanted her to come to the Harvard game, but I think she can’t handle the emotion and action of the game. I don’t think she’s mentally cut out for it. I want her to see me play, but she says now like she doesn’t even want to watch. My dad makes up for it though. He maybe missed two games my freshman year, but that’s it. I eat Skittles before and during the game, and I usually share them with Lucielle [Kozlov ’16].
Have you always been a goalkeeper?
TS: At a very young age in youth soccer, I played forward. But then my dad was the head coach for my fist travel team when I was 8. He turned to all the girls on the team and asked if anyone wanted to go in goal, and everyone shook their heads. He turned to me and said, “Alright, you’re in.” I’ve just been there since. I remember the first advice he gave to me was “be brave.” That’s probably the best advice I’ve ever gotten about being goalkeeper.
What are you going to miss most about soccer?
TS: I’m going to miss this team a lot. They are my family at Dartmouth. I’m also going to miss competing in Ivy League games. It’s nerve-wracking as hell because anyone can win the Ivy League. I’m going to miss that competitive feeling.
I caught back up with Saunders after the team’s 1-0 loss to Cornell, which officially eliminated them from title contention.
TS: Obviously we are extremely disappointed with the result of the game, but looking at the season as a whole, it’s been an amazing run. At the end of the day when looking back on this season and my career at Dartmouth in general, I am going to remember the wins and moments of greatness. I am so sad to be done with soccer at Dartmouth. This is a truly amazing and special team, and I am beyond excited to see where the program goes.
This interview has been edited and condensed.