By Ryan Posner
Riding the bench had never been a reality for Samantha Koemans.
The Cal State Fullerton senior midfielder was a two-time team MVP while playing at Pasadena High, racking up numerous all-league and all-conference honors.
Koemans, the second-youngest of 10 children, branched out for college and accepted a scholarship to play at Jacksonville University in Florida.
“I was very sheltered when I was younger, so when Jacksonville offered me — my parents are hard workers but they really couldn’t afford to put me through college — I knew that’s what I wanted,” Koemans said. “I wanted to get away.”
At the surface, Jacksonville looked to be a solid fit for Koemans. She started 12 of 19 game and was named to the Atlantic Sun Conference All-Freshman team.
But things weren’t necessarily that simple.
“The culture was very different,” Koemans said. “It wasn’t really soccer-focused. It was more like just partying and going to school. For me, I had gone so far away to have fun, to have a little bit of freedom, but I also went there to continue my dreams on the field.
“I didn’t feel like I was getting that challenge.”
Cal State Fullerton had been on Koemans’ short list when choosing a college. Though she said Jacksonville didn’t make her release process easy, she eventually placed a call to Titans women’s soccer coach Demian Brown.
“It was a relief when she was able to transfer and was kind of a no-brainer for us,” Brown said.
While Brown was happy to have her on board, the team was already flush with attacking players, like Koemans, a health major. That made playing time scarce through her first two seasons.
Koemans appeared in 19 games over those seasons, with all appearances coming off the bench.
“It was tough at first,” Koemans said. “My parents were now able to come to most of my games and they were (somewhat disappointed). I kind of felt like I let them down a little bit.”
Koemans wasn’t alone facing this challenge.
“Ever since she was a little girl she’s had that need and determination to always be touching the ball,” said her mother, Anamaria. “This was something completely new to her, but we just kept trying to motivate her. She’s been working toward this her whole life.”
Koemans watched mostly from the sidelines as the Titans were eliminated in the first round of the NCAA…