After Starring for PHS, Real Central New Jersey, Lis Primed to Make Debut for Lehigh Women’s Soccer
SO READY: Sophia Lis, right, controls the ball in action last fall during her senior season for the Princeton High girls’ soccer team. This week, Lis will be starting preseason practice for the Lehigh University women’s soccer team as she gets ready to make her college debut. Over the summer, Lis played for Real Central New Jersey of the Women’s Premier Soccer League and helped the club advance to the league’s Eastern Conference semifinals. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Sophia Lis reached new heights last fall in her senior season for the Princeton High girls’ soccer team, scoring a program-record 38 goals as the Tigers went 21-3 and advanced to the state Group 3 final for the first time.
In reflecting on her dream season, Lis credited her teammates with helping to inspire her heroics.
“It is all about the positive team environment around you, just knowing that everyone on the team was doing the best they can, preventing goals,” said Lis, whose goal output marked the second highest single-season total in CVC history behind the 65 scored by Steinert’s Lisa Gmitter in 1982.
“Watching our defenders work so hard, it motivated me to try and take leadership, knowing that all we needed to win the game could be one goal. I tried to have that in mind, that all it takes is one goal and have the confidence that it can be the game changer, I knew I had a good support system behind me.”
The week, Lis will be taking her game to higher level as she starts preseason practice for the Lehigh University women’s soccer team.
“I hope I can fit in and play a good amount and just have fun with the team,” said Lis, who will be hitting the field for the Mountain Hawks on August 6. “A lot of my club team friends are committed to go to other Patriot League teams and I am excited to play against them and the whole environment. I am getting more excited as I get close to the season. I was nervous when I first received the 60-page fitness packet from the coaches. I was like, these girls are going to be so much stronger than me and so much faster. I have been practicing what I am supposed to know.”
Over the summer, Lis joined the Real Central New Jersey team in the Women’s Premier Soccer League to help her get up to speed for the challenges of college soccer.
“I would say it is a quicker pace, the girls are much more physical,” said Lis of the league which includes players from the collegiate, post-collegiate, international, and prep ranks. “They are all older and have that maturity with the game. It was really cool to experience that and get to know different players and their different styles of play. I think the oldest player on my team was 23 or 24. It is pretty much college students coming home for the summer.”
After RCNJ ended the regular season at 6-1-1, Lis helped the club reach the league’s Eastern Conference semifinals where it lost on penalty kicks to the VT Fusion after the foes tied 2-2 through regulation and overtime.
“We still did get two goals in, we worked really hard,” said Lis, who converted one of the penalty kicks in the defeat. “I am really proud of the effort that we put in.”
Following in the footsteps of her older sister, Devon, a former PHS and Georgetown standout who has previously played for RCNJ, Lis was proud of the progress she made competing in the WPSL.
“I think it helped my confidence a lot; in the beginning I was definitely nervous,” said Lis, who had played for her Player Development Academy (PDA) club team over the fall and spring before joining RCNJ. “It is meeting new players and learning their style of play and their mentality. Everyone was so supportive of me coming in as a newcomer. It is a whole different thing. They are stronger, they are college athletes who do weightlifting and stuff that I haven’t necessarily participated in. It definitely did make me excited to play at this quicker tempo with different coaches. It is definitely going to help me in my college career, it is going to give me more confidence on the field, just knowing that I can battle against more mature, older players. It is going to help in the skills aspect of it, playing in a new team environment always helps.”
As Lis heads into the college environment at Lehigh this week, she is primed to make a quick start.
“There are two mandatory fitness tests, there are also some technical tests, juggling shooting,” said Lis. “It is a good variety of things.”
Over the last few months, Lis has been bonding with her future teammates through Zoom sessions.
“We have talking about what classes to take, we have been talking about fitness stuff we have been doing,” said Lis. “Everyone had been so helpful. The upperclassmen have been reaching out and just making sure that we know everything that we should be doing.”
In addition, Lis has been getting advice from her sister on what she needs to do to make an impact for the Mountain Hawks.
“Devon said the No 1 thing I could do right now is to come in as fit as possible,” said Lis. “So even if you don’t get the playing time, you can work on your foot skills. As long as you can physically work on yourself and do everything in your power to pass the testing, the coaches know that you are taking it seriously.”
While Lis isn’t sure how much playing time she is going to get as a freshman, she is determined to contribute in any way possible.
“My goal is to improve as a player and as a teammate,” said Lis. “I want to offer the team all that I can positively, even if it is just on the bench. I want to make a positive impact on the team around me and just make good friends.”