In her short time at RIT, first year Industrial Design major Sami Alur has already made a name for herself as one of the best forwards on the women’s team. After an astounding breakout game against Clarkson, in which she scored three of the team’s four goals and assisted on the other, Alur secured a Liberty League "Rookie of the Week" award. Now, with five goals under her belt, Alur’s future on the team looks very bright.
She may still be a newcomer to the university but Alur has spent many years honing her soccer skills.
“I actually started playing when I was five years old,” she said. “When I was nine, I started playing competitive soccer, and it just kind of evolved from there.”
While Alur’s parents had her try a range of sports when she was younger, what ultimately made soccer stick was that size was not a determining factor.
“If you look at Lionel Messi, he’s only 5’ 7’’, but he’s one of the best in the world,” Alur explained. “Soccer is more of a strategy — every game is different. It’s not like football where you run a play the exact same way. Anything can happen in soccer, and that’s what excites me. It doesn’t matter if the team is better than you, it’s always a 0-0 game to start.”
By the time she was 15 and playing for an Elite Clubs National team, Alur knew she wanted to compete at a collegiate level. What led her to choose RIT was “mostly my major,” she said. “But what drew me to the soccer program was the team. I’ve never seen a team that is as supportive as RIT’s.”
“We support each other because we all want to work to the same goal,” she went on to explain. “We try to build off each other. We’re playing a sport, but we’re more like family.”
Alur’s personal goals for the season very much reflect how much she values the tight-knit nature of the team. “As a forward, one of main goals is to — well, score goals. Other than that, I don’t have a whole lot of personal goals. I share my goals with the team.”
The team’s biggest aspiration this year is to win the Liberty League Championship. “We ultimately want to go the NCAA playoffs,” said Alur. “Winning our conference will really help.”
In order to achieve that aspiration, head coach Sarah Masterson has had the team focus on their mentality, said Alur. “We do have a lot of talent on the team — that’s not the issue. We can definitely play very good soccer. But when we did lose a couple games it was because of a break in mentality.”
“Every day when we practice, our coaches really force the whole idea of mentality, keeping yourself checked in at all times,” she continued. “You have to be on your game 100 percent. That’s the thing we struggle the most with, but we’re working on it.”
With a strong 6-4-1 record, the team seems like they have a good shot of making that Liberty League dream a reality. The team also has a work ethic to match their aims, reports Alur.
“We’re extremely driven,” she said. “As a team of athletes, we push ourselves both academically and physically at the same time. A lot people don’t understand how mentally draining that can be — but it is fun. It’s good pressure we put on ourselves.”
At times, juggling that student-athlete lifestyle can get pretty intense, says Alur. “My classes go from 8–2 and after that I got to practice from 4–6. And then after 4–6, I go do my work, book it to Booth, and stay there all night. I don’t really get any time for myself.”
However, Alur has discovered that her classes have taught her lessons that she can apply to the playing field. “My classes relate to sports in a lot of ways,” she explained. “When you perform in a sport, they’re expecting the best from you. You put in effort 100 percent. My design professors are the same way — it’s like a parallel intensity.”
Yet despite the challenging demands that come with balancing classwork and soccer, Alur would not give it up for the world. “I take it as every moment I get to step on the field as a memory. That’s what’s most important to me,” she said.
“Because every time you step on the field, you’re working for someone else on our team. We’re never playing just for ourselves, we’re playing for our teammates.”
The road ahead won't be easy for Alur, but she is remaining focused on taking just one game at a time. “Every game is new for me, since I’m a freshman. I haven’t played any of these teams before, so I don’t know what to expect other than what our coaches talk to us about,” she explained. “But as a forward, my main goal is to finish. Help put opportunities in the net and help my teammates be able to do that so that we can have fun. I’ve noticed that a lot of times when we do score earlier in the half, the games go much easier than when we’re battling it out.”
With some challenging Liberty League matchups on the horizon, Alur reports that the team could really use the RIT student body’s support. With that backing, the games go much smoother. “Anytime we have a home game, it really helps to get the support,” she said. “For me especially, I feed off of the energy of the crowd. So when there’s a lot of people, I get into the groove.”
In order to see Alur and her inspiring team in action, come out and see them take on University of Rochester at their home stadium on October 25. This matchup will be extremely influential in shaping the team’s Liberty League hopes — so come out and cheer the Tigers to victory!