[follow id =”EvanMorter”]
Sophomore women’s soccer standout Elise Krieghoff was in Chicago on a family vacation when she got an email from U.S. Soccer.
“It was crazy,” she said. “Being on vacation and getting such a serious email like that you think ‘I need to get home and start training.’”
Krieghoff was the first ever Cal Poly women’s soccer player to earn an invitation to the U.S. Soccer Under-23 Women’s National Team training camp, a fantasy that has slowly became real for last year’s freshman star. She participated in the camp from June 7-14 at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.
“As a little kid you always want to play at the highest level possible,” she said. “It was really cool to see that I’m headed in that direction. That little childhood dream that everybody has sparkling in the back of our head is kind of coming true.”
Krieghoff was a high school standout in Clovis, Calif. scoring goals with consistency. At Cal Poly, it has been no different.
In her freshman year it was clear that the college level didn’t faze her. In 2012 Krieghoff led the Big West Conference with 11 goals and this past season she defended her title by tallying a school-record 21 goals. Her total led the nation in goals per match (1.105) and is something Cal Poly head coach Alex Crozier said he has never seen before in his 22 years at the helm.
“There has not been anyone that can score with the consistency she has,” he said. “We’ve had some very good players in the past, but what she was able to do was remarkable.”
Crozier told friend and head coach of the under-23 women’s team Steve Swanson that she simply puts the ball in the back of the net.
Ahead of the U.S. roster announcement, Crozier contacted Swanson declaring that his star forward was worthy of a call-up, and the positive reply arrived on May 27 when the roster was announced.
“Hopefully, if Elise shows well, the next time I call the team, they’ll take in my player again,” Crozier said.
The relationship between Crozier and current U.S. coach Swanson is a pipeline toward national spotlight for Cal Poly, Krieghoff said.
“The bar has definitely been raised,” Krieghoff said. “Things are happening in the program where our culture is changing. Everyone wants that call-up.”
Fellow teammate and roommate of Krieghoff’s, sophomore goalkeeper Alyssa Giannetti reinforced her teammate’s belief that the team’s goals are more ambitious than they’ve been in years past.
“It’s a huge step for our team,” Giannetti said. “It’s created a new atmosphere. The fact that one of our players is in the pool with all these incredible colleges is amazing.”
Giannetti is the one that has to face the wicked shots from the goalscorer in practice, which she hasn’t seen replicated by many, she said.
“(Krieghoff) has one of the best shots I’ve ever seen,” the Giannetti said. “She can take a shot from any distance.”
But as a player in the Big West Conference, the weaker opposition Cal Poly faces in comparison to national powerhouses makes it difficult to earn national team recognition. But now, Krieghoff has made clear that it is possible to advance from a smaller tier conference.
How well will she represents it is the question.
“It’s nerve wracking,” she said. “As I get closer to camp I realize there is a little bit of pressure, an unconscious one that I get from my coaches, teammates and family.”
The Cal Poly women’s soccer team won the Big West regular season championship before bowing out in the conference tournament to Cal State Fullerton on penalties this past season.