Senior captain spearheads A&M soccer's youth movement
Published: Thursday, October 24, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 24, 2013 21:10
When A&M fans think about the No. 2 maroon and white jersey, there is one thing that comes to mind — Johnny Football. But there’s another No. 2 on campus just as vital to her team as Manziel is to his — 5-foot-8 senior defender, Rachel Lenz, or Rachel Fútbol.
As the only senior on the squad other than Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar, who joined the team this year, Lenz has embraced her leadership role to spearhead the Aggies’ surge toward the top of the SEC standings.
This is not the first season the Aggies have looked to Lenz for leadership. Texas A&M head coach G Guerrieri said Lenz has been a leader since she arrived on campus and has only improved over the years.
“I got named captain as a sophomore, so it’s something that I think I have just grown into and just developed,” Lenz said. “I had great girls before me who showed me what it took to be a leader.”
The 2009 Round Rock High School graduate accumulated an impressive resume in her high school years. Lenz captained her club team to four state championships, participated in the Region III Olympic Development Program and trained with the U-20 Women’s National Team in 2009.
Lenz’s high school success brought several universities to her front porch lobbying for her services. But in the end, all it took was one visit to Aggieland.
“A&M had always been where I wanted to go — or the ‘dream school,’” Lenz said. “Being from Austin, I knew I never wanted to go to Texas. Burnt orange just isn’t my color. I visited here on a Friday, and the next morning I flew out to another school and then Sunday I committed here. It just felt like home.”
Lenz’s commitment proved to be a valuable one for the Aggies as she earned a starting role her first semester on campus. After starting 22 of 23 games her freshman year, Lenz was the only freshman named to the All-Big 12 First Team, the Big 12 All-Newcomer Team and the Soccer America All-Freshman Team.
“She’s been a leader on this team almost since her first fall season,” Guerrieri said. “But she’s always been in a leadership role in our team in the heart of our defense. She’s just gotten stronger and stronger over time.”
In her sophomore season, she was again named to the All-Big 12 First Team.
Guerrieri said Lenz is effective in all facets of the game as a one-of-a-kind teammate and soccer player. As a civil engineering major, Lenz balances her student-athlete role in a humble way.
When asked about her best qualities on the field, Lenz said it was her positive and vocal nature.
Sophomore Karlie Mueller said Lenz’s leadership and presence on the backline has helped her and the other young Aggie defenders gain confidence and experience that will be vital as the season presses forward.
“I’ve been playing with her for two years, and having her behind me is such a blessing,” Mueller said. “I feel so confident with her in the back line with me. She just brings something to the team that no one else does. She’s always positive. You never hear her screaming at people. She’s just a very positive person and she really brings the team up. She never gets down on us. She is going to be greatly missed next year.”
Lenz has started in all but five of her 81 career games as an Aggie, and her consistency seems to be rubbing off on the rest of the Aggie squad as it looks to extend its seven-game win streak against Ole Miss on Friday at Ellis Field.
As a captain of this year’s squad, Lenz brings toughness and grit to the Aggie defense and leads by example in her everyday preparation.
“She’s a vital cog in the machine,” Guerrieri said. “She’s surrounded by great players, but she really takes us getting scored on personally, which is a great characteristic to have. She’s ferocious in her manner on the field, and she’s a very thorough person. As a future engineer, there is no lack of attention to detail.”