SPRINGFIELD – The first year of college was a learning experience for Haley Ochromowicz.
Not only did the 2012 Bolingbrook High School graduate have to adjust to the course load and the college lifestyle, she also had to adapt on the soccer field.
Ochromowicz played in nine games with the University of Illinois-Springfield women’s soccer team last fall, and nearly every one of them was a learning experience.
“It definitely was very different,” Ochromowicz said. “It was more fast-paced. I had to think two or three steps ahead. Every game, I had to give it my all to make sure I could compete.”
Ochromowicz also had to adjust to seeing a change in playing time. An all-conference defender for the Raiders as a senior and a team leader on and off the field, she saw time in just over half of the Prairie Stars’ games last fall. Yet in that time she said she saw her game grow by leaps and bounds.
“I definitely learned that you have to make sure that you always do your best and give your all,” Ochromowicz said. “Just going to practice won’t cut it. You have to work out and work on your skills, otherwise you’re going to fall behind everyone else.”
A lifelong defender, Ochromowicz saw time as an outside midfielder last season. She hopes to play only along the back line this season, though with Molly Grisham taking over as the new head coach, nothing is set in stone as the season gets underway. A summer spent training and conditioning may help Ochromowicz catch her new coach’s eye.
“I definitely feel my fitness is up, and I’ve definitely gotten better thinking ahead,” she said. “When I get the ball, I know where I want to go with it.”
After earning shutouts in the first three games of the 2012 season and jumping out to a 2-0-1 record, the Prairie Stars struggled the rest of the way and finished 3-12-2 on the year, with eight losses coming by just one goal. The team will look to score more this fall, and Ochromowicz is no exception.
“I’d like to finally have a college goal because I haven’t scored yet,” she said. “As a team we want to go to the (Great Lakes Valley) conference finals in November. That’s a big-time goal. We want to make it to the championship round and win, and I’m looking to be a part of that.”