Nicholson aiming for championship
Published: Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 13:05
When it comes to UTEP’s success on the soccer field, acknowledgement has to be paid to the dynamic talent of junior midfielder Azia Nicholson.
“I never once thought I would be playing college soccer when I first joined the sport,” Nicholson said. “But once I started getting into it and really enjoying the sport, I figured I could go further, take it to the next level and play collegiate.”
Voted team MVP last year, Nicholson is known as a box-to-box midfielder, one who can defend, attack, possess and score.
Playing since she was 6 years old, Nicholson’s time on the field began with a school flyer advertising a soccer team.
She played recreational soccer until she was about 12 years old when she moved onto club soccer and then played four years as a starter for Bowie High School’s varsity team in East Texas.
As a freshman, Nicholson was a vital part of the starting line up for the Miners. Starting every game, she earned a total number of 1,663 minutes of playing time, the third most minutes played on the team.
A spirited defensive player, Nicholson helped clench the opposition to one goal or less in 15 out of 19 games that season. UTEP ended the season allowing only 22 goals, its third fewest-single sum season.
In 2011, Nicholson was the team’s leading shooter with a 54.5 shots on goal percentage. At the end of the season, Nicholson earned many honors such as All-Region Second Team, All C-USA Second Team, Capital One Academic All-District First Team and 2011 C-USA All-Academic First Team.
“Azia (Nicholson) is our MVP, she will do anything she needs to do to win a championship,” head coach Kevin Cross said. “A phenomenal player, she is always out there ready to compete and lead the team, and she always delivers. You never see her getting beaten out on the soccer field.”
Despite her prosperous career on the field, Nicholson is still humble about her talent, and said what she brings to the game is just good old fashioned hard work.
“I am not a fancy player, I like to keep things simple,” Nicholson said. “I just concentrate on putting in hard work into everything I do. I learn from my coaches, fix all the details in practice and put it all together with the help of my team when it’s game time.”
A two-time C-USA Academic Medal Winner, Nicholson is also a standout in the classroom, keeping her GPA above a 3.75 and managing all the demands of being both an athlete and a pre-med student.
“It is really busy and hard to balance everything,” Nicholson said. “But you just have to know those windows of time before and after practice you have to get stuff done and sometimes you have to sacrifice and stay up late a few nights a week to get work done.”
With 11 goals and seven assists, Nicholson is maintaining her strong play from her previous two seasons.
Nicholson said that she and her team are concentrated on getting to the final championship match and, despite a rocky start to the conference season, they are not letting up the hard work they put out on the field.
“We have a few more results that we need to get in the remaining games but we are focused on the championship,” Nicholson said. “It has been our ultimate goal to get back to the championship and win it so hopefully, we end our season with a conference championship win here at home.”
Audrey Westcott may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.