Playing for her country

Junior midfielder Adriana Moya was missing from the Colonials lineup for three A-10 games this season, but it wasn’t due to injury.

Moya’s family hails from Chile and the midfielder was tapped this year to compete for the country in the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. The second-largest multi-sport event in the world, trailing only the Summer Olympics, the games include all countries of the Americas. It was an opportunity Moya said she couldn’t pass up.

“It’s still such an unreal, surreal type of feeling,” Moya said. “Not that it is greater than college soccer, but the national pride involved in playing is amazing.”

The trip caused Moya, GW’s leading scorer from the previous season, to miss three of the final five conference games. And without Moya, the Colonials struggled. The women’s soccer team finished their season without making the Atlantic 10 tournament, which the Colonials last qualified for in 2002.

The Colonials managed to score only one goal during Moya’s absence, losing two of the three matches that she missed. But head coach Tanya Vogel doesn’t think the loss of her standout forward is to blame for what she calls a team problem.

“We have a lot of players on our team who could have picked up the slack when Moya was gone,” Vogel said. “We weren’t losing because of her absence. We are proud that she was able to play on the international stage. It’s an honor.”

The opportunity to travel to the PanAm games, Moya said, afforded her the chance to grow and develop as a leader, surrounded by some of the most talented athletes in her sport on the field.

Women’s soccer at the Pan American Games has no age limit, so Moya often took to the field with adults – athletes that she said showed professionalism and experience far beyond what she encounters as a collegiate student-athlete.

“In a way you are kind of like, ‘What am I doing here?’ because you are sitting there at lunch or dinner with world-class athletes, medalists, right next to you,” Moya said.

Even through the incredible experience, the grueling practices and challenging competition, Moya didn’t forget about her team back in Foggy Bottom. She watched every Colonials game she missed online, noting each minute detail of play.

Moya returned in time for GW’s last game of the season, watching seniors Sierra Smidinger, Taryn Dietrich and Lindsey Rowe take to the Mount Vernon Field for the last time Oct. 30. Moya will be a senior next season, and she knows the program needs her to step into the leadership roles left vacant by the three departures.

“I need to take on the same leaderships that they did, but also try to improve my own game. More goals and more assists,” Moya said. “We’ll need to fill the roles that our seniors left, and I think that my class is capable of doing that. The older girls on the team can take the younger ones and help them out.”

As Vogel begins preparations anew, she’s bolstered by Moya’s PanAm trip. Moya’s own play benefited, Vogel said, but the lessons she brings back from the competition will also transfer to the rest of the Colonials.

“Her experience will be a huge positive for us come next season,” Vogel said. “She was a part of something that our whole team can learn from.”

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