As the New Mexico State women’s soccer team continues their 2016 season, the team will look at junior midfielder Holly Abdelkader to lead the young squad through the peaks and valleys. The Alta Loma, California native is one of the few returnees from the 2015 team, as this year’s edition featured eleven newcomers to the program. Though the team is off to slow start, Abdelkader is doing her part to keep the team upbeat.
“When times get tough and things aren’t going the way we want them to go, that’s my time to step up, be vocal, and lead the team in the best way I can,” said Abdelkader. “I’m pretty mellow, but when I need to step up, that’s when I’m more vocal and aggressive because I want us to win.”
Abdelkader came to Las Cruces in 2014 and played in all 22 matches for the Aggies her freshman year. She was fourth on the team with six points on the year and had two goals. She improved her sophomore year, logging eleven points on the year, including a game-winning goal against Lamar University. Abdelkader is now a junior, and she is no stranger to being a teammate that sets the example.
“I ended up becoming a captain my senior year [in high school]. During club soccer, as I started to get older, I was beginning to get looked at as a leader. I wouldn’t say I’m super vocal all the time, but I’m pretty good with talking to my teammates one-on-one as well. Playing soccer my whole life, I’ve learned and I’ve grown a lot,” said Abdelkader. “I try to use those experiences and share them with other people now.”
The Aggies have gone through their lumps through the first month of the season, and have struggled to get the offense going. Through six games, the Aggies only had two goals, one that Abdelkader scored via a penalty kick against the University of Illinois-Chicago in a 4-1 loss, and Aileen Garcia’s game-winner against Texas State in double overtime to clinch the Aggies’ first win of the season. Abdelkader remains adamant that the team will fight through the early season adversity due to their bond on and off the field.
“For the newcomers, they were so nervous coming in. I understand that because I was in their position. When I came in, my teammates were so welcoming, and they were trying to help build the team chemistry,” said Abdelkader. “So this year, we have team dinners and go to the movies together so we can build that team chemistry and get to know one another on and off the field.”
With a team that only includes two seniors, the Aggies will improve as the season goes on, as youth tends to usually take a bit of time to mesh and become one cohesive unit. But with a seasoned veteran like Abdelkader leading the way, look for the Aggies to hit their stride sooner rather than later.