Women's Soccer Player to Watch: Courtney Conrad

By Andrew Phillips

RICHMOND, Va. - The first time VCU Women's Soccer co-head coaches Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak and Tim Sahaydak saw Courtney Conrad, she was still playing soccer at the youth level in Canada.

Now, years later, Conrad is a junior on the Sahaydak's team at VCU. Although the story, so far, seems like any other college recruiting story, it's not.

After graduating from Dartmouth High School, Conrad decided to continue her soccer career at the University of Jacksonville.  She made the transition to the collegiate level look easy, and led the Dolphins in scoring (eight goals) and points (20).  But she was looking for even more despite a successful rookie campaign.

"I think one of the reasons why she wanted to join our team was because she wanted more of a challenge, and to continue to grow as a player," said Sahaydak. "I think she knows that's the type of environment she is going to get here. Not just by the competition and teams that we play against, but the training that's every day."

So Conrad decided to join the Sahaydaks after all, and transferred to VCU in the spring of 2011. 

"When she reached out to us to come here, we were excited because we knew she was a goal scorer, and she proved that she could score some goals in [the Atlantic Sun]," Sahaydak said.

In her first season in Black & Gold, Conrad again showed her offensive prowess. The Dartmouth, Nova Scotia native finished tied for the team lead in goals (six) and second in points (13).

"Even though we were not following her closely, we knew [what she was capable of at Jacksonville]," Sahaydak said. "Now you never know how that's going to translate to a different conference, into a higher level, but she proved last year she could find the back of the net."

Her coaches credit her toughness, scrappiness, and attitude to her successes on the pitch. They say she has that "killer instinct" when it comes to scoring.

"I think she has all the qualities of a goal scorer," said Sahaydak. "She is selfish at times when she needs to be selfish, and she's unselfish in the right moments, and she can play a good ball to one of her teammates as well."

This year, Conrad wants to continue improving her game, and inch closer to achieving her ultimate goal of playing at the next level, and with the Canadian National Soccer Team.

"We are coaches that want our players to make goals for themselves, and then our job is to help them achieve their goals," Roberts Sahaydak said. "Her main goal is to get on the Canadian National Team and that is something we would love to help her improve on."

As the case with any true competitor, Conrad still believes she has a lot to prove despite the success she's had during her first two collegiate seasons.

"She's funny because after last fall, she felt that she didn't do as well as she wanted to, even though we felt that she played great," Roberts Sahaydak said. "That's who she is. She has high standards for herself.  She wants to score more goals this fall, she wants to be a bigger impact player for this team and in the conference."

Conrad now has her sights set on helping VCU capture an Atlantic 10 Championship.  The Rams will begin that quest on Fri., Aug. 17 when they kickoff the 2012 season at home against High Point.