The Experienced Rookie

  • By Shannon McNamara
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  • September 13, 2013 12:57 PM
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The life of a freshman student-athlete can be confusing. New surroundings, new rules, new coaches and new classes, combined with first-time experiences all young adults face, often force rookie Mountaineers to take a step back and adjust their perspectives. At times, this can affect play and a year to grow is needed.

West Virginia freshman defender Kadeisha Buchanan is the clear exception.

“That center-back might be the best center-back in the country,” North Carolina head coach Anson Dorrance said following WVU’s 4-2 loss to the No. 1-ranked Tar Heels on Sept. 8, at the Duke Nike Classic. “Who is that kid? She stopped so much of our attack, and I want to tip my hat to her, because that’s one of the best defenders I’ve seen at a collegiate level.”

Though honored, Buchanan, a native of Brampton, Ontario, isn’t spending too much time contemplating the high praise heaped upon her after only three weeks of college play.

“I don’t get hyped up over what people say,” she explained. “I take it as a compliment; I take it in, and I’m honored that he said that about me, but it doesn’t really change who I am right now.”

Who Buchanan is right now is one of two (redshirt-freshman Carly Black) rookie center-backs for the No. 10-ranked Mountaineers. Anchoring a relatively young line which also features sophomore Leah Emaus and junior Jess Crowder, Buchanan is solely focused on helping her team push for its second Big 12 Conference title in as many seasons and a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.

Despite only having experience in six collegiate games – matches she has started and never subbed out of – Buchanan’s soccer knowledge is layered and deep, as she has logged a lot of time with the Canadian National Team. She spent the past summer training with the U-20 Canadian National Team and started a friendly match against the United States on June 2. She also traveled with the squad to Copenhagen, Denmark, in late July for a 12-day Women’s National Excel camp.

Because of this experience, Buchanan says she doesn’t feel like a freshman when she takes the pitch with her fellow Mountaineers.

“I feel like an experienced player because I have a lot of international experience,” she said. “I just try to bring that (experience) to my team whenever we’re on the pitch.”

Mountaineer coach Nikki Izzo-Brown believes Buchanan brings more than experience to the back line.

“The thing with Kadeisha is that she has a tremendous amount of instinct for a young player,” the 18-year WVU coach explained. “Her ability to read the game is way beyond her years. When you add to that her international experience, going against women, and playing in an under-17 World Cup, all of that goes hand-in-hand with her knowledge of the game. She plays beyond a freshman, and I do treat her a little bit different, but as everybody knows, everyone can make a mistake.”

The Mountaineers have allowed only eight goals in six games and pitched shutouts in their two home victories over Central Michigan on Aug. 30 and Morehead State on Sept. 1. Buchanan hopes WVU, especially the defense, can play just as tough this weekend, as the team returns to Morgantown and opens a two-week homestand against Eastern Kentucky tonight, at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium, at 5:30 p.m. She also looks to transition into more of a leadership role as she continues to learn and mature as a Mountaineer.

“I want to become more of a leader. Others may see me as a leader, but I don’t see myself as a leader just yet,” she said. “I’ve already learned that we have a really good squad, that everyone is fun and that they’re all good people to hang around with. I think that reflects on the field.”

Fun on the field is exactly what Mountaineer fans can expect to see at Dick Dlesk, she continued.

“I was really surprised with our crowd,” she said about WVU’s home opener on Aug. 30. “Women’s soccer is really high here compared to other schools. I’m looking forward to more games here in Morgantown.”

In the mean time, Buchanan has finally settled into life in Morgantown. She has felt very welcomed in her new town, and appreciates the friendliness she encounters on a day-to-day basis. Additionally, life at Lincoln Hall dormitory with roommate Ashley Lawrence, another U-20 Canadian National Team member, has made Buchanan’s freshman-year transition easy.

“I really felt comfortable as soon as I got here,” she said. “I feel right at home, and it hasn’t been too much of a change.”

Whether on the pitch or off, Buchanan has made life as a freshman student-athlete look easy. Mountaineer fans are in store for an exciting four years following this promising talent.

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