Tchoula stepping into starting role

Austin Lanter

Two years ago, sophomore midfielder Chrissy Tchoula was ranked the 62nd-best player nationally in her class by 

Last season, Tchoula played in 18 games and started one. She was also able to score one goal on the season.

Now, as a sophomore, Tchoula hopes to have a bigger impact on the team, especially down the stretch this season in Sun Belt Conference play.

“Hopefully I can contribute more to the attack and get more points which is very results-based,” Tchoula said. “I want to be a more significant part of the team. I get more minutes and stuff, but I just want to be a bigger factor on the team. Even though thats not really quantifiable, you’ll know it when I do it.”

So far, she’s done just that.

At the beginning of the year, Tchoula was one of the first players Head Coach Jason Neidell pulled off the bench. 

Now she’s appeared in every match this season and for half the year has taken on the role of a starter — a role fellow sophomore Stephanie Lindsey says she took by force.

“In practice she’s coming and showing that she can start,” Lindsey said. “She’s basically forcing (Coach Neidell) to start her because she’s doing so well.”

Tchoula has already taken more shots this year than last year and has more points as well.  

Her biggest outing of the season came against Arkansas State where she posted three points off a goal and an assist. The goal is Tchoula’s lone goal of the year, but she has three total assists.

Neidell said Tchoula has been progressing ever since she got here last fall. 

Coming in, she was a three-time All-State selection in Indiana, a member of the Indiana State Olympic Development Program and she earned a spot in the United States National team Pool from 2006-08. Since then she’s improved many aspects of her game.

“She’s been playing great (recently),” Neidell said. “She’s earned a starting spot. She’s been an impact player for us on the field on game day. She’s really taken it upon herself to make improvements in practice and it’s translated to the game field.”

Something Tchoula feels she has improved on is her overall fitness. According to her, that has really opened up “a whole new world.”

“It allows you to take the skills that you previously had and expand on them and grow them,” she said. “That, and just applying tactical things that the coaches have wanted, has really helped a lot.”

Neidell went on to describe Tchoula as a dynamic player. He also praised her for her strength and ability to win the ball in the air.

Tchoula has credited her improvements to her teammates and coaches. Senior midfielders Lindsay Williams and Kaylyn Pratt are two teammates she singled out, along with her fellow sophomores.

“I truly believe it’s all about taking the constructive criticism you get and applying it,” Tchoula said. “A lot of the times it’s easy to just listen but hard to apply, and I pride myself in doing it. 

“I believe that if you do what people ask of you, then you are going to get rewarded, and I believe that’s what’s happening right now.”

With five matches left in the season, Neidell is looking for Tchoula to keep playing consistently.

“I just expect her to keep doing the things that she’s been doing because she’s been a real asset to the team,” he said. “She’s bringing a lot of energy and a lot of positive play to our team.”