Numbers Don't Tell The Whole Story For Terps' Poulin
Jan. 10, 2001
By JAKE SCHALLER
This is the first in a series of feature stories that will appear every Wednesday. ``On Campus'' profiles Montgomery County natives who now compete in college.
Those who watched Audra Poulin during her decorated career at Rockville High most likely remember her dominating offensive presence. And goals. Lots of goals.
While with the Rams, Poulin, a two-time Journal Player of the Year, was a goalkeeper's nightmare. She tallied 89 goals and 60 assists, including 29 and 17, respectively, as a senior.
So a quick glance at Poulin's stats from her recently completed freshman year at the University of Maryland may be somewhat shocking: 0 goals, 2 assists. But, as is often the case, numbers tell only part of the story behind Poulin's rookie year.
No, the 5-foot-7 midfielder didn't find the back of the net. No, she didn't break any scoring records. But the Silver Spring native's play this fall commanded the respect of the soccer community. Already named to the Atlantic Coast Conference's All-Freshman Team and to Soccer Buzz's Mid-Atlantic All-Region team, Poulin last week made Soccer Buzz's Freshman All-American Third Team.
And that she achieved these accolades without gaudy numbers illustrates the caliber of all-around player she has become in just one season.
``Audra is one of those players who makes other people look good,'' Maryland coach Shannon Higgins-Cirovski said. ``Her talents in college will be just that. She may have the second assist [the pass before the assist on a goal], and we're not counting that. She also holds the ball up, she keeps possession, she does some of the intangibles that don't show up in stats.''
Poulin, who played center midfield most of the season, has not been discouraged by her scoring drought. In fact, it is almost as if a stigma has been lifted.
``I feel like [in high school] people just looked at my stats,'' Poulin said. ``I didn't have a lot of stats this year, but I guess they remembered certain things I did. I was pretty happy because it means they were watching me and obviously noticed other parts of my playing.''
And those other parts are what Poulin now is most happy about.
``In high school, I felt like if I scored a lot we would win,'' Poulin said. ``Here, I grew as a player because I learned how to play defense and track players. Before it was like I was just supposed to get the ball and score.''
Higgins-Cirovski, the ACC's Coach of the Year in 1999, said she knew before Poulin ever got to Maryland that the Rockville star could contribute immediately.
``You can't deny the fact that when you see Audra on the field, she just looks like a soccer player,'' Higgins-Cirovski said.
Much of that comes from Poulin's background. In addition to her exploits with Rockville High, Poulin played on the Maryland Olympic Development Program squad, led the Bethesda Falcons club team to several Maryland state championships, and this summer played with the Maryland Pride in a highly-competitive women's soccer league.
Still, Higgins-Cirovski saw room for improvement. Poulin, she said, needed to play with ``more fire.''
``I said `You can't play like a freshman if we're going to win,''' Higgins-Cirovski said. ``She's still developing that. Her personality is so laid back and she's such a funny girl that sometimes she brings that personality on the field. I told her she needs to have a different personality on the field.''
Poulin started the year as a reserve, but it did not take long for her to crack the starting lineup. She played in all 19 games this season and started 13 of them.
The Terps finished 8-11 and did not reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in six years. It was a season of battling injuries and a difficult schedule - all but one of Maryland's losses came to teams that made the NCAA Tournament.
But with players returning from injuries and another talented freshman class expected next year, the Terps future is bright. Poulin has already started to prepare for her sophomore year with workouts created by the team's strength and conditioning coach. Poulin works out with sophomore teammate Valarie Lawrence - another Silver Spring native who played high school soccer at Good Counsel.
Lawrence also scored at a torrid pace in high school but has changed her game in college. Also a former Journal Player of the Year, Lawrence played midfield and had four assists as a freshman. But she was moved to the centerback for her sophomore season where she played almost every minute of every game.
``We discovered the best thing she did was play defense,'' Higgins-Cirovski said. ``She's strong, great in the air and has a great left foot.'' In addition to making a smooth transition to the college game, Poulin, 18, has adjusted to college life with ease.
``I love it,'' she said. ``They put me in a suite with five other girls. There's so much freedom. It's like a slumber party every night.''
Reprinted from the Montgomery Journal