It did not look good for College of William and Mary Head Coach John Daly.
His Tribe was down 1-0 to Virginia Commonwealth University with less than three minutes remaining when the ball made its way to senior back Abby Lauer.
“We were losing 1-0 on national TV and we’re all sitting there on the bench thinking ‘I can’t believe we’re losing this game,’” Daly said. “Then suddenly she took the game by the scruff of the neck.”
Lauer brought the ball down the right side and served it into the box for senior forward Claire Zimmeck. Game tied, 1-1.
Two minutes later, Lauer served the ball into the box for junior forward Kelly Jenkins.
“Bang, goal,” Daly said. “We win.”
As Daly learned throughout Lauer’s four-year career, Lauer does not like to lose. This exists not only in her soccer career, but also translates to her academics. Just ask her roommate.
“She was in biology class, and she got extra credit for finding typos in the textbook because the professor wrote the textbook,” senior Sarah Milam, Lauer’s roommate of four years, said.
“There was one point where she got tired of studying for the exam so she was like, ‘I’m just going to look for typos.’ She would read out sentences and be like, ‘Can you say that? Is that grammatically correct? Write it down. I think that’s half a point.’”
Lauer’s competitive nature has led to honors both on the field and in the classroom. She was named CAA co-defensive player of the year Nov. 6, only the second Tribe player to achieve that honor.
What makes her feat even more remarkable is the fact that before she arrived on campus, Daly had never seen Lauer play.
“I wasn’t committed to play anywhere by April of my senior year,” Lauer said. “I was deciding between William and Mary and Duke. I had contacted [Daly] before, but he had never expressed an interest in having me on his team. But I told him I got into the school and was interested in playing soccer.”
Lauer told Daly she would be playing that weekend in a tournament at Bull Run with her club team. Daly couldn’t make the tournament, so he asked a friend for a favor.
“The Georgetown [University] coach was the coach of the team against which Abby was playing,” Daly said. “So I called him and asked him if he would take a look at her and tell me what he thought.
“He called me right after the game to tell me, ‘You need to get this kid.’”
Due to injuries and the loss of defensive players to graduation, Lauer ended up starting right away and never relinquishing her place in the Tribe’s lineup. She started all 86 matches of her career — the only College senior to accomplish that feat.
“It doesn’t happen that often,” Daly said. “You kind of hope you are going to get those kind of players, because you know by the time they are juniors and seniors that they are going to be very, very good players.”
As a sophomore, Lauer tied for fourth in the CAA in assists. As a junior, she anchored a Tribe backline which finished seventh in the nation in goals against average on her way to earning third-team All-CAA honors.
Lauer also earned ESPN The Magazine third-team Academic All-American honors as a senior, while majoring in biology and minoring in French.
“There are times when it’s really hard to make it balanced,” Lauer said. “We spend away trips where we’ll take over the lobby of the hotel with all of our books. It’s little stuff like that, deciding when to stay in on a certain night and study as opposed to watching TV.”
This past summer, Lauer worked as a Congressional Affairs Liaison in the French Embassy, while playing for the semi-pro soccer team, the Northern Virginia Majestics. She would go from speaking “probably 25 percent French” at the French Embassy, where she prepared briefing booklets during the day, to competing in the highest level of women’s soccer in the United States at night.
“A lot of times I’d come straight out of Georgetown to go to practice,” Lauer said laughing. “That was crazy.”
Lauer also took the LSATs in hopes of applying to law school, although pinning down exactly what she wants to do next year has proved harder than slipping a cross past the Tribe’s defense.
“She’s planning on going to France for a year to teach English because she loves France,” Milam said. “She loves French culture. She loves the country and she loves kids, so why not go spend a year and go teach when she’s unattached and has nothing better to do with her life.”
Lauer has also expressed interest in trying out for the Women’s Professional Soccer league, which starts play in April 2009. Milam says she would be supportive of a career in soccer, but knows her roommate’s athletic success doesn’t define her.
“Being a soccer player gets her the fame and attention on campus, but everything else [she does] is great [too],” Milam said.
Lauer is set to face a new series of challenges – law school, France, professional soccer – but it is her competitiveness that will lead her to success.
Just look at what she has done for the Tribe.