As students at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, Emily Perhats (criminal justice) and Abby Eriksen (psychology) are studying in different majors.
As soccer players for NCAA Division III Loras, the Prairie Ridge graduates also have worked on their sales skills with coach Matt Pucci.
“We always joke with Coach that we love to play together, and we work well together,” said Perhats, a senior who scored six goals in the team’s eight-game spring season.
“In practice,” Eriksen said, “when we’d be on the same team, we would say, ‘Hey Pucci, look, we’re playing good together. You should try it out.’”
Instead of playing the same center forward position as they had earlier in their careers, the spring season featured a lineup with Perhats at center forward and Eriksen at attacking midfielder.
The team went 7-1 while outscoring opponents 26-3. Perhats piled up 13 points, and Eriksen (four goals, three assists) had 11, making them two of the team’s top three point scorers.
“We just know each other since we’ve been playing so long together,” Perhats said.
Along with playing in high school and college, the duo also played in club soccer together.
When the team took a preseason trip to Costa Rica this month to face international competition, Perhats and Eriksen again were on the field together.
“She’s one of my favorite people to play with,” Eriksen said. “We can just read each other.”
After losing the season last fall because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Loras is eager to chase its eighth NCAA tournament appearance since 2010 and its fourth in the past six seasons.
“Everybody is just excited to have a full schedule back,” Perhats said. “I missed that game-day rush when we’re playing another opponent. In our locker room, we blast music and we all get ready. It gets us all pumped up.
“We have a really good group, not just talent-wise,” she said. “We all get along, and that’s super important.”
On Tuesday, the Duhawks were predicted to finish second in the American Rivers Conference this season in a poll of league coaches. Loras earned two of nine first-place votes and was behind Wartburg in the poll, which had seven first-place votes.
In the spring, Loras’ only loss was a 2-1 decision against Wartburg, which won the league title with a 7-0 record. Loras opens its fall season Sept. 1 against St. Norbert.
While playing only eight games in the past 21 months, Perhats said she focused on a key aspect of her position.
“I think I’m faster than I used to be, which helps a lot playing center forward,” she said. “I tend to beat people more in the short sprints than I do in the long sprints.”
Meanwhile, Eriksen said she focused on being resilient throughout the pandemic.
“A lot of people have struggled mentally [during COVID],” she said. “In any sport, the mental game is a huge component of how you physically perform. I’ve learned from COVID that a mistake on the field is nothing compared to what’s going on in the world.
“Just get back up and keep going,” she said.
When the season begins in less than two weeks, Perhats hopes that she and Eriksen are playing side by side.
“We did in Costa Rica, so I’m hoping so,” she said.
MVP summer in Joliet: Jacobs graduate Bryce Vincent, who played his first two college seasons of baseball at D-III Concordia Chicago, was named the Most Valuable Player of the Midwest Collegiate League after a standout summer with the Joliet Generals.
Vincent, who made the all-league team as a shortstop, batted .452 and had 21 RBIs in 23 games for the Generals, who won the league championship. He posted a .490 on-base percentage for the season. The team finished 24-14 and was 4-0 in elimination playoff games. Vincent was the first player in Joliet team history to earn MVP honors.
In August, the baseball program at NAIA St. Ambrose University in Iowa announced via social media that Vincent is joining the program as a transfer.
The Generals’ roster also included fellow St. Ambrose recruit Nick Vollmert, a Crystal Lake South grad who made the MCL All-Star Game this season.
• Barry Bottino writes about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow @BarryOnCampus on Twitter.