Missouri freshman adjusts to college soccer

Wednesday, September 1, 2010 | 6:51 p.m. CDT; updated 10:14 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Missouri freshman Alex Charlebois, center, finishes morning soccer practice by doing stretches with the rest of her team Wednesday on Faurot Field.

COLUMBIA — Missouri freshman Alex Charlebois is pulling double duty to assimilate to college soccer.

The midfielder/forward is not only learning about the jump from high school to college, but the London, Ontario native is also adjusting her game to a new style of play now that she’s in America.

“The soccer is a lot more intense,” Charlebois said. “I had to push myself a lot more, but I definitely like it. I’m willing to work that hard.”

Charlebois has come off the bench in all three of Missouri’s games this season, and has no shots or points. But just because she hasn’t shown up on the score sheet doesn’t mean she hasn’t been developing her education in American soccer.

In those games, the Tigers faced three top-25 opponents, including No. 1 North Carolina in a 6-1 loss last Sunday.

Facing high-caliber teams, Charlebois took note of the higher intensity of American competition.

“They’re a lot stronger and more determined,” said Charlesbois, whose teammate senior Alysha Bonnick  is also from Ontario.

Aside from the game-play, Charlebois said the routine of her new team is different as well.

“It’s more consistent, you’re practicing every day,” Charlebois said. “You’re pushing yourself to get better all the time, whereas at home, it’s not as much practice.”

When it comes to adjusting to the new style of play, Charlebois said it is up to her alone to make sure she gets acclimated.

One way is adopting the in-your-face mentality she has seen on the field.

“Being aggressive myself helps me a lot, having that mentality,” Charlebois said.

Coming to Missouri isn’t Charlesbois’ first exposure to American soccer.

Charlebois’ home is two hours from the American border and she said she has made plenty of trips to America for soccer showcase tournaments.

Missouri coach Bryan Blitz said Charlebois’ talent shows no matter what style of play.

“She’s an attacker, her strengths are her strengths,” Blitz said. “What she did there and what she does here, they both translate really well.”

Among her accomplishments in Ontario was being named the 2006 Athlete of the Year at Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School.

Charlebois said she started playing club soccer for the North London Galaxy ’92 when she was 10 or 11, and she had picked up soccer a couple years before.

When it came time to choose a college, Charlebois was drawn to Missouri because of its conference championships in 2008 and 2009.

“They had back-to-back Big 12 championships, and I was very interested,” Charlebois said. “I thought it was a good community.”

Now that she’s a part of that community, the challenge is set for Charlebois to make herself comfortable playing soccer in America.

Fellow freshman Molly Bear said parts of Charlebois’ adjustment have been the same as any other newcomer to the Tigers, and she has made strides toward fitting in with the team.

“When we all got here it’s like a whole new world going out on the field, it’s so different,” Bear said. “We were all kind of timid, but I think she’s come into her own. She’s not afraid to go in for tackles … She’s really improved since she’s been here.”

Charlebois will continue her transition into American soccer when she and the Tigers hit the pitch against DePaul at 4 p.m. Friday in Chicago.

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