“She hates losing,” head coach Benji Walton said. “We always give her a hard time because I think she hates losing the most out of any player on our team.”
But don’t blame Abby Roth for her competitive nature, it’s just in her blood. Roth describes how everything with her family is a competition. Whether it be soccer or something as simple as a friendly card game, things are bound to get heated in the Roth household.
This has undoubtedly influenced her aggression and competitive nature on the soccer field.
Roth grew up a military brat and has lived all over the world. Because of this, she was constantly having to get used to different soccer teams everywhere she went. In some situations, it was more difficult than others.
“I lived in Korea when I was in middle school, and I played on an all-boys team so that was obviously a challenge,” Roth said. “I was a little 12-year-old playing with these 15-year-old boys, but they didn’t have a club team so you have to do what you have to do.”
After Roth’s family settled down in Georgia, she focused all of her energy on reaching the collegiate level.
“I moved up to a club in Atlanta, so I was driving two hours to practice, two hours back,” Roth said. “I was doing homework on the road. It was a long process. The things people do to play college soccer [are] unbelievable.”
After trying out different positions on the soccer field, Roth found her niche in the back line. She said she feels most comfortable playing center back, and it allows her to have the game in front of her. Roth perfected her game until she finally got her shot.
KSU took a chance on Roth after she missed her senior year of high school with an ACL injury. Roth found herself at a disadvantage when she started playing for KSU, but this obstacle only fueled her drive and hardened her hard-working spirit.
“I spent 3 months over the summer running my butt into the ground getting fit and getting ready,” Roth said. “If I’m not going to be the best soccer player, I’m going to be the one that works the hardest. I’m going to be the one that’s the most physical, the most fit. I’m going to be ready anytime they need me.”
Roth finally got her opportunity and did not disappoint. She quickly solidified her role as a brick wall for the Owls’ defense and has been a mainstay in the lineup for four years, appearing in 19 matches in 2015 and starting all 19 games in 2016.
Roth has received several honors during her time at KSU, including ASUN defensive player of the week after her performance against Lipscomb this past weekend. Roth notched her first assist of the year, and it couldn’t have come at a better time as the Owls needed a win to guarantee their playoff bid.
Although Roth is a highly decorated athlete, her time at KSU has not always been full of awards and accolades. In fact, there was a time when she did not know if she would make it to her senior year.
“I told Kendall Hart, I looked at her and I was like I did not know if I was going to make it through all four years because it was rough,” Roth said. “It was really hard being a college soccer player and then I got there [senior year], and it was all worth it.”
After being doubtful of her longevity, Roth made it to her senior year, and after witnessing countless teammates experience their senior nights, she finally got to experience her own. All the emotion of her soccer career culminated in that one night.
“Every second of the spring season last year where we had four healthy players, every second with my teammates on the bus, every second of 13-hour bus rides, skipping classes and having to make up tests, all of it was worth it,” Roth said. “Everything we did was worth it, and that’s what it felt like on senior night.”
Roth’s teammates are certainly glad she has made it to her senior season as she has been one of the top performers on the team.
Although she is a defender, Roth has scored ten goals and recorded two assists in her career as an Owl.
“She’s a defender so defenders don’t know how to handle themselves when they score,” Walton said. “She’s notorious for having the most ridiculous celebrations. Like, combine a touchdown in football with a slam dunk in basketball and that’s how she celebrates. She kind of blacks out and loses her mind for five seconds.”
KSU will rely on Abby Roth to do it all in this weekend’s playoff matchup against North Florida, and maybe we’ll get a chance to see one of those trademark celebrations.