From big city to small community

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Story by Collin Morris, Contributing writer

The 2016 Murray State Soccer season marks the third year of forward Harriet Wither’s term in the blue and gold. After being named the first OVC Offensive Player of the Year in school history and tying the school’s single season record for points in 2015, Withers has her sights set on further success.

“I set myself to a high standard like the rest of the girls on this team do,” Withers said. “Obviously I want to score some goals and bring my team to some wins individually but as a team I think we all have the same goal and that’s to make it to a conference final and win in the conference again. As long as we can work together and keep building on our success and our drive to win and be better players our team goal can always be to win.”

Withers, from Murwillumbah, Australia, has spent the last two school years far from home and adjusting to cultural differences between the two countries, but has taken the task in stride.

“Obviously coming from another country there’s always going to be a lot of cultural differences,” Withers said. “Thankfully the language was not something I had to adapt to but I think America has a very welcoming culture – especially the Murray community.”

But her praises did not end there. Withers had plenty to say about the acceptance she has found in America and within the city of Murray.

“With such a small community we’re all very involved with one another,” Withers said. “Having the supporters come in all the time is really nice. Back home in Australia I come from a much bigger place and there’s much fewer teams in the area so we were forced to fight for fans. The fan base here is definitely more connected. Their involvement and dedication is always so nice.”

Coming from across the globe, it is only natural that Withers would have found herself coming to Murray State unconventionally.

“There was always the idea in the back of my head of coming to college in America, but the idea of coming here and going to a big school was really daunting to me,” Withers said. “Then Coach Groves contacted me and I looked up Murray State and it was a small town with a really connected community and the program was developing with a new coach and those were all really big things for me.”

Carrying a 1-2-1 record and coming off a 0-4 loss against Vanderbilt, the Racers go into their next game set to face their second Southeastern Conference opponent of the year in the University of Kentucky.

Despite a scoreless outing against Vanderbilt, Withers has remained focused on the necessary adjustments for herself and the team to continue their typical production.

“We’ve tried doing some different positioning with players,” Withers said. “But when it comes down to it, we just need to focus on our mentality and being positive and knowing the mistakes that we made in the Vanderbilt game as far as not going in hard or standing of players. Next game we’ll be going in hard and not letting players get any time or opportunities to have success against us.”