Women's Soccer Notebook: Junior Taylor Mertz
Oct. 3, 2011
Now a junior at Old Dominion University, Taylor Mertz, is one of the members of the defense for the lady monarchs.
"I started playing [soccer] when I was seven; I played soccer and basketball for a long time. When I got to middle school and had to pick one or the other is when I realized I really like soccer and that was the sport I wanted to pursue."
It was a great thing Taylor chose soccer because throughout high school she accomplished great things. Each of the four years at James River High School, Taylor played on varsity and earned All-Academic honors accompanied by All-District team honors.
"One of my greatest memories of James River was being a freshman on the varsity team because I had a lot of friends that made the team too. There were six of us, I played club with, that went on to make varsity our freshman year."
After having a great senior year and being voted team MVP, Taylor had to make the choice where she was going to play at the next level.
"Recruiting is interesting because you start so young with soccer. It's difficult because you can only contact the coaches at a certain period of time. But after my first visit, talking to Joe, and exploring the campus I knew that I definitely wanted to come here," Mertz said. "One of my friends, Aubrie Ewell, had already committed, so after spending time here I just knew this is where I wanted to be."
The transition from high school is difficult especially if you're an athlete. Taylor says the key to success is maintaining balance.
"It's definitely all about balance; you have to learn how to balance your school [work] with soccer and also trying to fit your social life in there can get tough," Mertz said. "Traveling and being on the road, you have to learn how to manage that by doing your work ahead of time."
At one point in Taylor's career she played on the offensive side of the field, playing forward for the FC Richmond Mystics club team. So how does her mindset differ when playing on opposite sides of the field?
"Playing forward is more of a freelance position, where there is more room for error. On defense you really have to discipline and be focused on what you're doing." After raising money with the Mystics, the team ventured to Madrid, Spain, where
Taylor says the club teams overseas played a bit differently then what she was use to seeing.
"My experience in Madrid was really exciting and really different. It's really different in a scene that they bring a high level of intensity to each game versus us being a lot calmer. We had set plays, where as the overseas teams just relied on play making abilities combined with intensity to score goals."
Like any coach, Coach Joe Pereira prides himself on having a strong shut-down defense. He talked about how Mertz has improved over the years and her role on this team.
"She's a left-sided player which is always nice, she has good mobility, and is very athletic. Coming out of high school that what we saw," Pereira said. "As a freshman she was just trying to feel her way in, remaining patient until her number was called. Coming into preseason as a sophomore, she suffered a little setback but this past spring and summer Taylor had a great offseason. She came in very ready and fit and from that point she has not looked back. She's been terrific in terms of the impact she's had on our ball club. She's a marking back first and foremost, but when she can go forward and get involved in our attack she makes us that much better."
Although soccer is a huge part of Taylor's life, time for relaxation is also a must. When she's not on the field, Taylor says her alternative to soccer is simply "hanging out with friends, going to concerts, and the going to the beach."