“You can observe a lot by watching,” the always quotable Yankees Hall of Famer Yogi Berra famously said.
Last year as a freshman, Abi Cottam observed a lot by watching, even with an injured eyeball, and this year is ready to establish herself as an All-Conference-caliber women’s soccer player at Rider.
Now in her sophomore campaign, Cottam is currently second in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) in goals and points, and ranks among the top 30 in the nation. She’s also getting it done off the field, maintaining a 4.0 grade point average as a Psychology major.
Last week, the native of Leominster, England, was named the MAAC Player of the Week, after leading Rider to its first two wins of the season.
“Sitting out gave me a chance to see how I could help the team,” said Cottam, who missed August and September of 2009 with an eye injury sustained on a head ball in the preseason workouts. “It helped me see how I could make the team better.”
Cottam played in the final eight games of the 2009 season, beginning the very day she was medically cleared to practice. By the end of the year, she shared the team lead in assists.
“It was very frustrating, sitting out last year, and having to watch,” Cottam said. “But watching did help. I wasn’t shocked at the speed and how physical the college game is (as many freshmen are) because I had seen it. Once I was fit, I was ready for it.”
Cottam scored three goals against Delaware State on September 8 to lead Rider to its first victory of the 2010 season. “Abi did well,” said Rider head coach Drayson Hounsome. “She had a good outing. It has been some time (since 2003) since a Rider player had a hat trick. Abi is an aggressive player who is hard-working. She takes people on and is a good shooter.”
Cottam had a goal and an assist in a 2-0 win over Fairleigh Dickinson, scored at Sacred Heart to cut the Pioneers lead to 3-2 and assisted on the only goal in the Broncs’ win at Wagner. “Abi had a fantastic week,’ Hounsome said, “scoring goals with her left foot, right foot and head. These are the signs of a good striker.”
Though she credits her time on the sidelines last season for helping prepare her for this level of play, Cottom was nonetheless glad to be in the Broncs’ 2010 lineup from the outset.
“It is a really good feeling to play early in the season, unlike last year,” said Cottam, who, as a member of the Aston Villa Ladies was on the English Schools National Championship teams in 2003, 2004 and 2007.
Cottam’s goal and assist against FDU were witnessed by a throng of nearly 700 fans at Rider’s first-ever night game, once again calling to mind a quote from Yogi – or at least one close to his: “No one goes to those Rider soccer games anymore, it’s too crowded.”