Senior leadership paces women’s soccer to ODAC top spot

What helped drive the Washington and Lee women’s soccer team to nine games without a loss and the top spot in the ODAC tournament? The versatility and leadership of captain Hollis Tardy, ‘17

Tanner Smith

Versatility is one of the most coveted attributes in an athlete, and Hollis Tardy, ’17, has it in droves.

Tardy has proven her versatility in many respects. On the soccer field, where she has helped lead the Generals to an 12–3–1 record and a top seed in the ODAC, she has played “wherever coach decides to play me.” Over the course of her four-year Generals career, she has played center middle, outside back, center back and attacking center middle.

Tardy’s versatility is a major reason that the General’s women’s soccer team has not lost in over a month. The team has recorded wins in eight out of the past nine matches with one tie. With ODACs and a potential NCAA tournament run looming around the corner, the Generals are hoping that Tardy can help them continue that streak.

Being able to play anywhere on the field is not her only trait, however. Her soccer coach, Neil Cunningham, calls her “rare breed” of athlete, as she is a two-sport athlete. Along with her exploits on the pitch, Tardy has also played for the Generals lacrosse team throughout her collegiate career.

“I played both sports in high school so I was really excited about coming here,” Tardy said. “I really like competing and I like representing my school and I like playing in big games so I get to do that twice.”

Though athletes are usually told to focus on and master a single sport, Tardy has received nothing but encouragement from her coaches to pursue her goals.

“My coaches have both been really supportive,” Tardy said. “Coach (Cunningham) always says that ‘two sports athletes are a rare breed these days.’ He loves that. Brook (O’Brien), the lacrosse coach, played three sports in college so she totally gets it also.”

Cunningham thinks that Tardy is even more versatile than she appears, as she has also had to help guide the 11 freshmen on the team.

“Hollis has been a great leader for us this year,” Cunningham said. “She has been a great back and she has had to play with freshman backs so she is actually teaching as she is playing. Sometimes it is like she is a player-coach out there; she is trying to play her position while trying to lead the team and next to her is a rookie.”

While Tardy has had to help correct her younger teammates, she has been very impressed with them as a whole and think that they help create the team’s greatest strength.

“I think one of our big keys right now is that we are playing a really deep bench,” Tardy said. “That has been the big difference this year from last year. We just have a lot of people who can run and a lot of depth so that we can go harder for longer.”

Cunningham and Tardy are hoping that their depth can help lead them to a deep run in the ODAC conference playoffs, as the team is currently set up to have home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

“I think we need to have a good week,” Cunningham said, “and then go into conference play feeling really positive, really confident and believing that we can beat anybody that is put in our way.”

The Generals’ next match will be hosting a quarterfinal match on Nov. 2.