New Richmond High School grad Maren Hance had quite the fall for the Cincinnati Christian University women’s soccer team.
Hance racked up 18 goals and 40 total points, finishing tops in the River States Conference in both categories as a sophomore. For her play, she earned first-team all-conference honors and National Christian College Athletic Association first-team honors.
Head coach Erika True was in her first season at the helm of the squad last year, and said Hance’s play made not only the conference but the league take notice.
“She had the breakout performance of the year for our team,” True said. “I don’t have much to compare to, but she led in many categories statistically and made a huge mark in the conference and even the entire NAIA as well.”
Hance’s improvement on the pitch could be due to several different things, one of which was her ability to learn key aspects of the game she hadn’t before.
“She began to learn the game,” True said. “It was one of my favorite things, each training. I just feel like she really took in every bit of information that was given to her and she blossomed because of it.”
Hance attributed part of her play to her work ethic, which included training sessions back in New Richmond.
“Work, practice, even if that meant training on the weekends,” Hance said. “I’d go back to New Richmond High School on the weekends. I’d train with my dad or whoever was available. Over the summer, this one and the previous one, I worked hard as far as working on my finishing. I wanted to work on turning inside more.”
Hance’s family has played a big role in her performance at CCU. Her mother played basketball for the college, which put the school on Hance’s radar as she neared graduation.
“My mom went to Cincinnati Christian, she played basketball,” Hance said “I had always kind of known about it. I was recruited for basketball at first, and I ran into the soccer coach on my visit.”
True was not CCU’s coach at the time, but around the time of her arrival Hance decided to focus on soccer full-time.
“She made that decision on her own, and it’s worked out for her,” True said. “She’s been able to focus on blossoming into a really good soccer player, I look forward to seeing what she does over the next couple years.”
True’s expectations for the junior this season are high, as she said she expects Hance to continue her offensive outburst from last year while potentially adding a leadership role.
“She created success on the field, if that was scoring or creating opportunities for others to score,” True said. “She can bring leadership this year that she may have shied away from in the past. If she does it the right way, she could be conference player of the year, she could be the leading goal scorer in the conference.”
For her part, Hance is all in on the leadership. She too wants to take on a larger role on what she calls a young team, but she knows this season she’ll have a bigger target on her back.
“This season will be a little bit tougher, because my name is out there and teams are kind of figuring me out a little bit,” Hance said. “I’ve talked to my coach, and we’ll figure out ways around it. Hopefully I’ll still be as dynamic.”
Hance added that she’s excited for the upcoming season, noting the amount of effort being put into athletics by the university.
“I’m seeing really great things and a bright future,” Hance said. “The school is amping the athletic programs as far as food, the weight room, things like that. We’re bringing a lot of kids in, and I’m excited for what’s in store for the season.”
Off the pitch, Hance said community service is a big part of the team and the school, and she has recently started student-teaching.
“I love it,” Hance said. “I was at Roberts, which is a majority Spanish-speaking school. I got to learn a lot about kids and how they interact with each other. We also did an after-school program with the soccer team, which was really inspiring and cool to watch. You get to see kids play soccer and the way that they play together.”
Hance finished with one piece of advice she’d give athletes: Start the process of picking a college early, and learn as much as you can during that time.
“You can never be early,” Hance said. “I feel like that was my biggest thing, I don’t need to look yet. My mom always told me knowledge was power, and right away we were going to camps and talking to coaches. The more you know, the better. The more you prepare yourself…I felt like I could have been more prepared. Whatever you need to do, just be prepared.”