UNA soccer player claims top scores for the Lions

Junior forward Chloe Richards makes a pass against Shorter University Sept. 24. Richards leads the Gulf South Conference in goals with 13.

Quiet and shy off the field but aggressive and effective on the field, junior forward Chloe Richards has led the Lions to early success in the Gulf South Conference.

“I don’t like the spotlight a whole lot,” Richards said. “But it’s a good feeling to see all of my hard work pay off.”

Richards has been named the GSC Player of the Week on two different occasions this year.

“She works extremely hard,” said head coach Chris Walker. “She has went above and beyond everything we have asked her to do and it’s made a big impact on this team.”

Richards has 13 of the 19 goals for the Lions on the season, while also assisting three of the other six. She leads the GSC in points, goals, goals per game and game-winning goals, as of Tuesday.

“It’s a team effort,” Richards said. “My teammates put me in such a good position and I just try to help us win.”

Richards also has scored 28 career goals, which is sixth all-time at UNA. She has scored at least three goals in a game three times this season.

“She stays around the goal and she creates her own chances,” Walker said. “She’s worked really hard over the spring and summer and now it is paying off.”

Richards is spending long hours in the classroom preparing for life after soccer when she is not on the field.

“I train and study a lot,” she said. “It doesn’t leave you much time to do anything else.”

Richards is majoring in exercise science in the health, physical education and recreation department.

“I really enjoy studying strength and conditioning,” she said. “I find it very interesting and I really want to help athletes improve and be the best they can be on the field.”

Walker said he feels just as confident in Richards’ decision making on the field as he does off.

“Chloe is someone who does it on and off the field,” he said. “She gives me one less thing to worry about, and as a coach you appreciate that.”

Richards is a native of England but has found a niche in the US playing soccer and bonding with teammates.

“I’ve really learned to love it here,” Richards said. “I have a great group a girls to play with and they’re also a great group of friends to hang out with.”

Richards will look to bring the Lions back to regionals after missing it for the first time in five years in 2013, and also win the conference championship as well.

She has helped the Lions improve to a (6-1-1, 3-1) start after going (8-8-2, 5-4-2) last year.

“I really want us to win the GSC,” Richards said. “We’re definitely capable of it and I think we can go to nationals, but first and foremost is to win the conference.”