That scoring mentality
by Matthew Ondesko, Managing Editor
Photos by Geoff Schneider/Sports Union @GMSPhotoWNY
Eve Bierl didn’t know what to expect four years ago when trying out for the Hamburg High school varsity soccer team. As a freshman, Bierl was just going out there and giving it a shot to see how good she was against older players.
She never knew that she was going to make the team, and be a key contributor over the next four years of her career. As her season came to an end earlier this fall, Bierl was one of 16 seniors to move on from the Bulldogs - as her and her teammates where one of the most decorated classes fro come trough the school in a very long time.
“I have been on the Hamburg varsity soccer team ever since I was a freshman just trying out to see if I was good enough to make an older team, not really sure if I’d get a lot playing of time or not. But when I made the team, I was welcomed immediately,” stated Bierl. “The bond I had with the seniors 4 years ago when I was a freshman, is similar to the bond that I have with the youngest players on our team now. Being a senior now I can really see that the bonds I have created with my teammates the past couple of years Is something I’ll will always treasure. With how fast time has gone It makes me realize how I changed as a player on and off the fields.”
Bierl just didn’t make the team her freshman year, but she excelled right out the gate. For her career she tallied 34 goals and added 32 assists. That’s pretty good efficiency for a forward. If there was thing that Bierl always did was that she never let the pressure get to her.
After a 2017 where she scored 15 goals, it was have been very easy for Bierl to put a lot of pressure on herself to score more goals over the next three years. Bierl, however, made sure she became an all-around player.
She knew there was other players on the team that were capable of scoring goals at any time. Even during her senior year she only tallied five goals, but dished out 13 assists. It has been that kind of transformation that has allowed her to grow, along with her teammates over the past four years.
“I try my best to not think about scoring goals while I’m playing, and play the game as it goes on. When I think about needing to score I often think to hard about it and miss a golden opportunity I could’ve had,” stated Bierl. “So just when I’m up front I wait for the right opportunity to take, and use it to my advantage. While also trying to score goals, I want to be a playmaker for my teammates and when I don’t have the opportunity to score, I try to create that same opportunity for my teammates.”
It’s that type of team first mentality that had made Hamburg so good over the past four years. The team has achieved a lot, and it’s because of the play of players like Bierl. She knows at times there will be pressure on her to score goals.
But, that isn’t her mindset when she steps on the pitch during the game. Her mindset is just helping her team win games. If that’s scoring fine, if it’s setting up her teammates that’s ever better.
Either way, Bierl makes sure she lets the game come to her.
“When the first whistle blows for the start of the half my mind is completely focused on helping to win this game for my team, everything else that was in my mind quickly fades away. Sometimes I do put pressure on my self when we are behind or I feel as if I’m not playing the way I know I can play, but I remind my self that stressing out won’t help me or my teammates play our best game. If that does happen I just focus on the next play of the game,” stated Bierl. “The first thing that goes into my mind before the half starts is that I need to be a wrecking force no matter the outcome of the game. In my mind there is something I can improve on from the last game, and I go over that and do the best of my ability to improve myself on the field.”
Bierl has done a lot of improving over her career at Hamburg. That includes making sure she can go a full 80 minutes, if not more. With Hamburg being hit by the injury bug this season, a lot more was expected of the players that were healthy to play.
That meant players like Bierl would be going the full 80, if not more because of overtimes. She realized early on that she would need to be mentality focused for the entire 80 minutes. Some players are able to do it in stretches, but Bierl wanted to make sure she was ready to play from the opening whistle to the end of the game.
“This year playing a full 80-90 minutes, sometimes 110 if there’s overtime, seems to be a usually occurrence this year compared to last year. Due to some injuries on the team I’ve realized that I needed to step up and be able to play a whole game without a sub,” stated Bierl. “Focusing the entire time and not getting tired is something I’ve worked on from the time I started soccer, and am now able to do very well. When I’m playing the game all my attention is on the game and in the zone, and when that happens I don’t think about how tired I am, and continue to play just like I started the game.”
She always wants to rise to the occasion. Big time players make big plays during big games. That’s the mentality that Bierl wanted to have every game, but even more so when it came to playing their rival Frontier or league rival Williamsville East.
Knowing the coaches can count on her to show up for big games is something that Bierl takes pride in. She isn’t someone that will shy away from the big moment.
“I always want to rise to the occasion, whether it’s playing a team we have won against before, or a team like Will East and Frontier where it’s a very close game against really talented players,” stated Bierl. “Every game I really try to prepare myself in advance with a mentality to win. Getting up for the big games can be stressful but they are always the best games to play with my team because our passion and skill levels really seem to rise and be at an all time high knowing there’s something to prove against big teams like those.”
Just like that her varsity career is over. Four years flies by when you are having fun - and Bierl made the most of her four years being a Bulldog.
The senior game was extra special this year because know one knew if there was even going to be a season. When they finally got the ok, many school’s pushed their senior games right to the front of the schedule to make sure they got it in.
For Bierl is was extra special because it was 16 seniors that were being honored. Sixteen young ladies that went through the journey together.
“With there being 16 seniors graduating this year, senior day was definitely special. While Senior day was a little different than how it was past years, it was amazing just to be with everyone celebrating each other,” stated Bierl. “I have been playing soccer with most of these girls since I was around the age of 8 in club soccer, and to be graduating with each other makes it even better.”