By Steven Braid, Daily Sports Writer
Published August 15, 2011
Tori McCombs felt uneasy going into the summer months.
The Michigan women's soccer midfielder hoped to continue her growth during the offseason, but was uncertain if she would be able to maintain her intense training away from school.
McCombs completed a stellar freshman campaign for the Wolverines in which she started all 19 games and ranked second on the team in goals with five. She was an integral part of a Michigan squad that finished with its first winning season in four years, helping them reach the NCAA Tournament. Most all of, she improved mightily throughout the season.
She continued her development during the offseason, taking part in training sessions with coaches and players at school.
But as the summer months approached, McCombs worried about her improvement. She had made significant strides with the coaching staff, working hard to improve the weaknesses in her game, and did not want to take backward steps in her progress.
“It’s one your biggest fears when you’re going out of school for the summer,” McCombs said. “You worry if your game is going to drop down or if you are going to stay in shape.”
But after an exciting four months, it seems as if her summer experience couldn’t have been any better.
After earning a roster spot with the Boston Aztecs in the Under-23 Women’s Premier Soccer League for the second straight year, McCombs found an opportunity to continue her development against some of the top collegiate soccer players from across the nation.
Not only that, but she had fun doing so.
“It was so much fun,” McCombs said. “The girls were great and it kept me busy this summer.
“One of the things that I personally needed to work on was my speed of play, and just playing at that level all summer helped me keep my momentum going in terms of working hard and just keeping that college rate up.”
While she was challenged and overmatched at times playing against stronger and more talented opponents, McCombs relished the experience and understands that her game only improved competing at that level.
“It was a great experience just getting to play against some of the top college players in the country,” McCombs said. “It helped me build my confidence so much. It helped me stay in shape. I think just playing with them helped me in every aspect of my game.”
Playing roughly only an hour from her hometown, the Londonderry, N.H. native displayed confidence throughout the summer season with the Aztecs. The midfielder turned in several solid games en route to helping her team to an 8-3-3 record and a berth in the national semifinals.
Her strong play did not go unnoticed as she received a second team All-East Conference selection.
McCombs was honored and appreciated the recognition, citing the selection as a token of her hard work.
However, she knows that even after a fantastic summer with the Aztecs, there is still plenty of work to be done and is now concentrating her efforts towards helping the Wolverines.
“Honestly, it’s a good accomplishment for what I did this summer,” McCombs said. “I’ve got my confidence up. But right now, I’m just focusing on what I can bring to the plate for Michigan and how I can help my team here.”