In women's soccer, the difference between high school and collegiate play is bigger. The players are taller, faster, stronger and â¦ well â¦ just bigger.
For Margo Hickman, it's just another challenge to overcome.
The 5-foot-3 Westminster forward might be shorter in stature than the defenders she plays against, but her team-leading 11 goals on last year's Frontier Conference title team makes her one of the biggest players on the pitch. With the Griffins preparing to defend their title, they are facing a new season minus 11 departed seniors and a squad of young faces.
"We have a really new team," Hickman said. "It's going to be up to us [seniors] to go out there and play tough."
The 21-year old from Meridian, Idaho, has been playing soccer since she could walk. Her collegiate career began at Walla Walla Community College, where she was a part of back-to-back conference championships, leading the league with 28 goals.
Hickman transferred to Westminster in 2011 with two years of eligibility remaining and wanting to share that winning tradition with her new team.
"That feeling of winning championships is amazing, and I wanted to be a part of this tradition at Westminster," Hickman said. "I'm glad we worked so hard last year and that it paid off."
Part of that tradition is returning to rival Carroll College on Sept. 30 and defeating the Saints on their own field. It's the one game of the season that is circled on the calendar that Hickman wants to win for Westminster.
"They'll be gunning for us and I think we are going to be ready for them," Hickman said.
Hickman knows that conditioning is a key part of Westminster's success. It's not just the ability of the players to get up and down the field, but having the strength to communicate in the middle of play. Running a 4-3-3 formation means that the Griffins play an aggressive game on offense, relying on a strong set of defenders in the back.
"Playing with more people up front gives us better chances to score," Hickman said. "Our defense is really strong, and I know I can trust them to help get the ball to us."
Westminster coach Tony Leblanc has high hopes for Hickman. He says her leadership on the field and scoring potential will give the Griffins a lot of opportunities to repeat as Frontier Conference champions.
"She was a huge piece of the puzzle last year, and I am expecting a lot out of her this season," Leblanc said. "She's the kind of player that can score big goals for us."
Hickman will hang up her cleats this year and focus on getting accepted to the nursing program at Westminster. With three more years of school ahead, she would like to transition her soccer career from playing to coaching.
"I'd like to share my experiences and help the other girls in how to play better," she said. "Being at Westminster is a special feeling, and I'd like to stay on with the team in any way I can."
About Margo Hickman
Hickman led the Griffins with 11 goals last season.
She transferred from Walla Walla Community College.
She would like to work as a pediatric nurse upon completing her nursing degree.