Ryder: Center midfielder but not center of attention

 

 

 

 

 

Holly Ryder has been overshadowed.

Since she transferred to St. John’s in 2003, Courtney Rett, Kaitlin Schmidt, and now Natasha Lee have garnered the majority of the team’s honors and attention around the Big East. But why has Ryder not earned a conference award beyond the Academic All-Star Team?

“I haven’t always been the player that scores fantastic goals and that’s what people look for and that’s fine with me,” Ryder said. “I know how well I can play. The game is for me.”

So far Ryder, a Planton, Fla. native, has seen her accomplishments and contributions go almost unnoticed outside of St. John’s.

“I don’t know what the other Big East coaches are looking at not naming her to a Big East team the last couple of years,” St. John’s coach Ian Stone said of his center midfielder. “If I’m scouting our team, she’s the one that I have to find a way of stopping.”

Most teams are still trying to find a way to accomplish that. After 10 games, Ryder is the team’s leader in goals, with three, and assists, with two, on a squad that has scored only 10 goals all season. Last year, the senior led the team in scoring (14 points), assists (four) and was second in goals to Lee, with five.

“She is probably the most technical player we’ve ever had in the program in my [13] years here,” Stone said. “She can play with both feet. She can hit any type of ball.”

But, Ryder is more than just good statistics and good footwork. She is all about passion.

If you watch her play, you will see Ryder is an all-around player, always making the extra effort, pushing herself a little bit more. She will go full speed after a header on a corner kick or come out of nowhere to take the ball from an unsuspecting dribbler. Because of this, Ryder enjoys her current position.

“I love being able to put my fingers in every part of the game,” Ryder said.

Added Lee: “[Ryder] would intimidate me if she was coming at me. She goes in with full strength all the time. She has such passion for the game, it’s amazing.”

The 5-foot-8 Ryder’s love of the game began when she first played at the age of nine because she wanted to imitate her best friend, Sean Dolan, who was playing. She practiced in softball cleats, but soccer shoes and her enthusiasm have not left her since.

“I really can’t explain it,” said Ryder, who left Kansas University to be closer to her family and scholarship availability. “It’s just something I enjoyed right away. I don’t know. I loved it. It made me happy playing everyday.”

So far she has. Ryder has only missed one game in her two-plus seasons at St. John’s, a 2-0 win over Wagner last September at Belson Stadium. The Italian and Art History major has been a constant on a team that has seen players enter and exit their lineup like they are stuck in a revolving door at Macy’s.

“She’s physically fit, but she is also so strong,” Stone said. “Other teams know about her and they still can’t really stop her.”

Stone hopes that trend continues and Ryder knows with Schmidt and senior Laura Burlacu seeing limited time, her role becomes that much bigger.

“The senior thing is setting in,” Ryder said. “It’s going to be over soon and I don’t want to regret one thing.”

The hope is that when the season is over, the Big East coaches make good on something they might regret – giving Ryder a spot on an All-Big East team.