Former PHS Star Anderson Goes Extra Mile In Preparing for Second Season at Denison
By Bill Alden
Kia Anderson didn't wait long to show her teammates on the Denison University women's soccer team that she possessed a special resilience.
Playing in a preseason scrimmage last summer against Case Western before the start of her freshman season, former Princeton High star Anderson failed to convert on four breakaways.
In overtime, though, Anderson shook off her earlier failures to register an assist on the game-winning goal.
Anderson proved to be a reliable performer for Denison in the clutch all season long, scoring four goals and passing for three assists from her outside defender position to help the Big Red post a sparkling 15-4-1 record.
This summer, Anderson and her teammates went the extra mile in their efforts to build on last year's success, traveling to the Netherlands and Germany on a preseason tour.
In Anderson's view, the journey should help the team start the fall a step ahead of its opposition. "I think anytime you get to play together before the season, it's going to help," said Anderson, noting that the squad went 1-1-1 in its three games against European semi-pro clubs. "We went to Amsterdam, Maastricht, and Cologne. We got really, really close; it was great to have that time together."
The speedy Anderson is primed to increase her production for Denison, a Division III school located in leafy Granville, Ohio.
"I'm really excited," said Anderson, who was named as a second-team All-North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) performer in her debut campaign.
"I've got more experience; I've got a year under my belt. We were working on our 4-3-3 formation on the trip. Our midfielders are center mids so the outside backs need to come up and get involved in the offense."
Anderson acknowledged that she took her lumps last fall as she adjusted to the college game. "I had to learn to play more physically; you're playing against 22-year-olds," said Anderson, who has been putting in regular sessions in the weight room this summer as part of her preseason regimen.
"I'm a small player; I had to be tougher. It was scary stepping on the field at first. There was just one other freshman on the team besides me. I needed to prove myself. It helped a lot that the team was so welcoming."
Off-the-field, Anderson thrived in the friendly environment at Denison, a liberal arts school with an enrollment of approximately 2,200 students.
"I didn't want to play D-1 soccer, I wanted to do other things in school," asserted Anderson, who plans to major in psychology. "I'm in a sorority and I'm doing community service. I'm also doing some dance stuff."
Anderson arrived at college ready to thrive after putting together a strong career at PHS. "We had a lot of talented players," recalled Anderson, who helped the Little Tigers advance to the Group III Central Jersey sectional finals in 2002.
"Everyone was dedicated and everyone loved the game. Coach [Greg] Hand was a great coach. That experience really helped prepare me for college soccer." Anderson believes Denison will be fueled this fall by the bitter experience of ending last season with a loss to Wittenberg on penalty kicks in the NCAC playoffs. "We were upset that we lost that game; we had beaten that team a week earlier," said Anderson, who played with the Match Fit club this summer. "I would love for the team to make the NCAAs."
With a resilient performer like Anderson spearheading its back line, Denison could well be a factor in the post-season.