Oct. 17, 1997
Doing the Dirty Work
It may not show in the stats, but senior Wendy Hartwig does the little things for the Cavaliers
By Tim Zawacki
Don't tell her opponents, but fourth year midfielder Wendy Hartwig says she really is a nice person. Off the field, that is. A self-described 'dirty Jersey player,' the Ridgewood, N.J., native, lives up to her billing. Known for her aggressiveness and intensity, she never shies away from physical play. Hartwig would love to put the ball in the back of the net but she realizes her role this season is focusing on defense and being a team leader.
A two-time Parade All-American at Ridgewood High School, Hartwig was asked to step up from the moment she arrived in Charlottesville. She started 16 games as a first-year and all but six in the time since. While she admits her first year was a bit intimidating, Hartwig credits her teammates with making the transition to college soccer that much easier. "I have been fortunate to be surrounded by so many good players here throughout my four years," Hartwig says. "I couldn't have been in a better situation."
Hartwig's defense has been the key to her success at UVa, but it is her focus and aggressiveness for which she will be remembered. Case in point, Hartwig dribbled the ball in the center of the field against a recent Atlantic Coast Conference foe, only to face a nasty slide tackle from a defender. "She didn't go for the ball," claims Hartwig. "Her cleats were up and she tried to take me out."
Hartwig, frustrated by what she perceived as over-aggressive defense by her opponents throughout the game, took matters into her own hands - literally. "That girl was just tackling everyone and getting away with it," says Hartwig. "It was in the heat of the moment, and I grabbed her jersey and pulled her down." Though she knows she could have been cautioned by the referee, Hartwig says she would do it again. "I try to motivate the team through my intensity on the field," she says. While the Cavaliers have had their ups-and-downs throughout her four years, Hartwig thinks this year's squad could go a long way in the postseason. "This team has so much depth - by far the most since I've been here - and the chemistry is great," Hartwig says. "Our team is geared toward a finesse, offensive style and we really utilize what we have." Nonetheless, she knows there is a lot of work yet to be done. "We need to start playing more consistently as a team, especially on defense," says Hartwig.
Finesse may not describe Hartwig's style of play, but that does not diminish her importance to the team. As one of the more vocal fourth years, she is a natural as a team leader. "I'm always in the center of things on and off the field," says Hartwig. "I really want this team to be like a family," says Hartwig. "I want the first and second years to feel as much a part of what we're doing as the fourth years." Hartwig says her competitive soccer days will come to an end after this season. A psychology major, Hartwig's future plans do not necessarily reflect her demeanor on the field. A sure sign she really is nice off the field, Hartwig wants to be a florist.