When Katharina Mertz arrived at Post in the summer of 2014, she was in a new place with new teammates and, in many ways, was playing a new game.
Mertz joined the women’s soccer team from Buxtehude, Germany, and after a strong freshman campaign, is leading the first place Eagles in goals and total points in her sophomore season.
“The first season was tough for me, I didn’t only have to adjust to a new school and culture, I also had to adjust to a different type of soccer compared to the game you play in Europe,” said Mertz.
Mertz found Division II college soccer in the U.S. very different from the style she was used to playing in Germany. She explained that German soccer has a heavy emphasis on technical and tactical skills, while the American college game predominately focuses on physicality and increased conditioning. Mertz has been working to add more physicality to her game, while maintaining the playing style she grew up with in Germany.
“I approached this season differently,” said Mertz. “By knowing what to expect for my second season at Post, I was able to get myself mentally ready and work on certain skills over the summer. Even though I don’t always agree with it, I feel like I have now mostly figured out how to play the ‘American way’ of soccer.”
The Eagles are 8-1-1 in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) and unbeaten in nine of their past ten games. Much of that success has had to do with Mertz’s team leading nine goals, including four game winning goals.
“I’ve really been trying not to overthink things on the field and simply let my feet talk,” she said. “Instinctively, I’ve learned which balls to play, and by keeping my composure and not overthinking my game, I’ve been able to find the back of the net.”
With an upcoming game against second place Georgian Court looming later this week, Mertz’s main focus is not necessarily the win and loss columns, but a constant dedication to improving every day, personally and as a team.
“It’s not always about winning games; it’s very important to grow as a team on and off the field,” she said. “If the team keeps working hard physically and mentally, the fun and success will come to us naturally.”