Junior defender dubbed ‘unsung hero’ for Lions

Junior defender Susan Lang clears the ball away before it could get to the goalkeeper against Belmont Abbey Sept. 5. Lang, who does not receive a lot of attention, leads the team in minutes.

Junior defender Susan Lang is the only player on the UNA soccer team who has played every minute of every match this season.

No, she is not the reigning Division II player of the year. She is not the goalkeeper with one of the best save percentages in the conference. Lang is quietly one of the best players on the team, said assistant coach Chris McBride.

“It’s hard for a defender to get any praise,” McBride said. “The role that Susan has played this year is one we can’t compare to. She does her job very well, and her role has been crucial to the results we’ve had in games this year.”

Lang, who hails from Cleghorn, Scotland, has played on the back line since she started playing soccer at seven years old. She said she knows her role is important and does not worry about being in the spotlight.

“I’m never going to get the attention of (the players) who score and get the goals,” Lang said. “My position isn’t one where you get an award for this or that. My job is just to make sure nothing happens. As long as nothing goes in, I’m fine with that.”

The 2014 All-Gulf South Conference second team player said there is a lot more that goes into being a good defender than people understand.

“The keeper is only stopping a few shots,” Lang said. “I’m stopping most of them before they even get to her.”

Lang made the journey to America after playing on multiple club teams throughout her youth.

Making the move to America was a huge change for Lang, she said. Lang moved from a small farm in Scotland, close to a town with about 300 people, to Florence, which has a population of over 40,000.

“Everything is huge and so much bigger here than it is back home,” Lang said. “I lived on a farm back home, and I miss it.”

Off the field, Lang is a soft-spoken individual and does not try to draw much attention to herself. However, in the locker room with teammates and friends, Lang takes on another personality.

“Susan is thought to be a more mature and sensible member of the squad,” said junior midfielder Ele Costello, who is Lang’s roommate. “However, she is also a huge joker when she wants to be. Behind closed doors, she is very different from the first impression she gives.”

Lang, one of the team’s three captains, may not win many awards, but has earned one thing that is not on any scorecard: Respect.

“It’s nice to be liked, but when (Lang) says that something needs to be done, the team respects her,” McBride said. “To be respected by your teammates is something that you want in a team captain.”

Lang is still adjusting to her role as a captain, but she said she appreciates her job this season.

“I like that Chris (Walker) gave me more responsibility this year,” she said. “Now that I’m one of the older (players), Chris wants me to be the one doing more talking, showing everyone what to do.”

Lang and the Lions face top conference rival West Alabama Oct. 25 in Livingston.