In college soccer, players are awarded their roles at different times in their NCAA careers. For Stetson’s Anna Brethauer, her journey to becoming a key player for the team began before she was originally scheduled to graduate from Avon High School. “I was lucky enough to have had the opportunity to graduate a semester early from high school and start training at Stetson in the spring of 2020,” Brethauer told BGN. “Unfortunately, that experience was cut very short since we were all sent home in mid-march. Although I wasn’t training with the team for long, I believe it was super helpful to develop an early bond with my teammates and coaches.”
“Once the entire team was back home, we were set up for incredible success by our strength and fitness team. We were given detailed lifts and running programs that really prepared us coming into the fall. I was able to restart training with my personal fitness coach in the summer and he thoroughly prepared me mentally and physically for what it takes to play at the division 1 level. Coach Chris set high expectations for fitness coming into the fall, so the entire team knew what we needed to do in the summer to prepare for success.”
Now, five matches into her freshman campaign, Brethauer leads the entire team in minutes. She explained, “Coming into the first game, I was not confident that I had a starting position. I was coming off a minor knee injury and just joined back into training. When Coach Chris announced the starting eleven for our first match, I was extremely excited when he called my name, and knew that I had to give it all I had to prove I deserved that spot.”
“After playing the entirety of the first match and talking with the coaching staff, my confidence grew that I could be a dominant leader on this team. Each game after that, I have felt my confidence grow through my increased communication as well as faster and more refined decision making. Coach Chris makes it a goal to meet weekly with every player to discuss future goals, and how to achieve them. This helps know what to focus on for the week ahead, and the expectations that are set for us. The coaches also work very closely with every one of us to improve our tactical vision through individual, positional, and team film sessions. I am incredibly thankful that the coaches trust me in this position, but I also know that I have much more to do and improve on.
Anna’s minutes are also coming at a crucial position on the pitch. “I am most comfortable in a center-back role. I have played center back throughout high school and have a lot of experience there,” she said. “I love being the last man back, giving direction to the midfield and forwards. I would say my communication on the field is one of my strengths, and that gives me a lot of confidence and success in the center back position.”
With her key role early in the season, Brethauer’s been able to experience how college soccer differs from the high school level. “The biggest difference in the college game so far is the speed of play,” Anna explained. “You have to always be turned on mentally. There really are no rests when you are on the field. Another difference is the physicality.”
“In high school, there are usually one or two players that you have to look out for when it comes to being physical, but in college, every single player has the strength and willpower to knock you off the ball.”
A two-time all-county and all-conference selection at Avon High School in Avon, Ohio, Anna definitely has a lot of love for The Land, despite it unfairly getting a bad rap nationally. As an unofficial tour guide, what should be on somebody’s agenda if they visit Northeast Ohio? “If you are ever in the Cleveland area, you have to take a trip to Cedar Point. It is an amusement park right on the lake that has unbeatable roller coasters,” she said. “I try to convince my teammates to come back to Ohio with me just so that I can show them how much fun it is.”
“Another place to visit that is super fun is the West Side Market. It is a huge, historic building filled with every type of food vendor you can think of. It’s right in the middle of Ohio City, which is an area that has incredible shops and restaurants. Also, you cannot visit Cleveland without going to get Mitchell’s Ice Cream. Mitchell’s makes their ice cream right in Cleveland, and they use the best local ingredients for the most amazing ice cream ever. I am not exaggerating-it’s the best.”
While she’s proud to represent Avon, Ohio, Brethauer is enjoying the weather down in the Sunshine State compared to Ohio. “Having grown up in Ohio, half of the year is very cold and grey, so I am so thankful to be playing soccer in beautiful Florida weather everyday,” Anna said. “I love going to the beach on our off-days, and sending pictures to my friends that go to school in Ohio. I love Florida because you can’t beat playing soccer in 70 degrees and clear blue skies.”
The weather also ties a bit into Anna’s major at Stetson. She explained, “I chose Environmental Studies as my major because I want to help make the world a cleaner and safer place for future generations. As we see the effects of climate change really start to take place, it is so important that we find sustainable alternatives such as solar and wind power. With my major in Environmental Studies and a minor in marketing, my dream job is to be on the marketing team of a clean energy corporation.
“Policy changes are driven by the economy, so I hope that I am able to make a real difference in shifting the world standard for energy to a renewable source.”
With a mindset towards helping the world’s future, on a much smaller scale, Brethauer’s also focused on helping Stetson’s immediate future this season. The team currently carries a 1-3-1 record and will want to turn things around in their last three regular season matches before the ASUN Tournament. “The key to our success will be consistency in our play,” Brethauer stated. “There have been games where we come out on our heels when we should be absolutely dominating. Then we come out against a very high scoring team like UNF, and are able to control play the entire game.”
“Every training and every game we are striving for the ASUN championship. That is what we are playing for, and I believe we have the skill and depth to achieve it. I am so confident in my team that we have what it takes to win, but our mindset, energy, and ability to stick to our game plan will be the determining factor on whether or not we follow through.”
The next chance for Anna Brethauer and Stetson to showcase some consistency will be on Saturday when they travel to Fort Myers to face Florida Gulf Coast University.