Enter freshman Krista Liskevych.
One of the highly touted recruits in this year's recruiting class, Liskevych has played her way from reserve to the starting lineup. In her first five games for the women's soccer team, Liskevych has scored two goals on only seven shots, helping the Badgers jump out of the gates with a 2-1-2 record.
Her ability to catch on so quickly to the vastly different, and more physical, college game may surprise some. But if you knew where Liskevych came from, her fast start would not surprise anyone.
Named to the first all-sectional team by the San Diego Union Tribune, Liskevych grew up in an athletic household where soccer wasn't the sport of choice. Her father Taras is the head women's volleyball coach at Oregon State and was the head coach of the U.S. Olympic volleyball team.
Additionally, her mom Nancy was an All-American volleyball player at Pacific. Even with the main contingent of the house being involved with volleyball, Krista received nothing but support from her parents when she chose to pursue a soccer career.
"I've been playing soccer the longest and I grew up watching and being around volleyball," Liskevych said. "My parents wanted me to try something else, and my brother played soccer, so that's how I fell into [soccer] at first. My parents have always been so supportive of me playing soccer and just letting me chose whatever sport I want to play."
After being recruited to play at Wisconsin, Krista played with the W-League's San Diego Gauchos club team during the 2006 summer. Not only did she get a chance to hone her skills against some tough southern California competition, but Krista also got the chance to practice and play with fellow Badger and team captain Kara Kabellis. Her time spent with Kara in San Diego helped Krista learn about the pace of the college and the tricks she would need to succeed.
"[Playing with Kara] was a blast," Liskevych said. "I thought it helped me to come into the game and already know someone on the team. I already knew how she played and it has definitely helped me a lot."
For Kabellis, she recognized that she had the talent and the skills to be able to succeed at the college level.
"She's calm on the ball and she knows the game," Kabellis said. "That's something I noticed playing with her. She is great in the air, battling for free balls. Those attributes really have helped our team."
When she stepped onto the Wisconsin soccer fields in early August, Krista was ready for the challenges that lay ahead. Through her first few weeks of practice, Liskevych turned head at practice with her work ethic, her ball skills and the ability to make those around her better.
"[Krista] is a technical player and has great vision on the field," assistant coach Carrie Barker said. "She's a step ahead of most of the opposition. That's a great quality she has and you add a little bit of that mix to the team and it is tremendous. … Having that [athletic] background has given her a boost to be ready to play the college game."
One of Krista's goals for her freshmen was to help the Badgers fill that scoring gap and use her abilities to help the team succeed. With the Big Ten season starting in just one week, Liskevych knows that her work is far from over and that the will to keep working hard has been instilled in her from her parents.
"I definitely wanted to be playing and be helping the team to do well with my abilities," Liskevych said. "I think I have achieved that so far. But by no means do I have to stop working. … [My parents] taught me that hard work is what makes you good. Putting in that extra effort when nobody is watching, running that extra mile or those extra sprints when you are tired really makes all the difference."