BRADFORD, Pa. — When Tess Follman learned she’d be playing in Brazil this summer, it came as a bit of a shock.
“It’s pretty far from Kill Buck,” she recalled thinking when she heard the news in December. “I’ve never really went that far to play soccer.”
The 2012 Salamanca graduate and University of Pittsburgh at Bradford freshman will play on the USA D-3 Soccer All-Star team in May as they tour Brazil.
The all-stars fly out of Orlando May 19 to Sao Paulo before games and sightseeing in cities including Jundiai, Sorocaba and Rio De Janeiro before returning May 29.
Follman’s mother, Shelly, will join her for the trip, while her Pitt-Bradford teammate Andrea Gundlach will also make the trip among 13 otherwomen on the roster.
Follman’s freshman season playing for Pitt-Bradford ended with 27 points on 11 goals and five assists as the Panthers went 13-6-1 (8-1 in Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference play).
“I’m surprised that I did so well for my freshman year,” she said.
Pitt-Bradford coach Mike Idland was impressed.
“Tess had a very strong first season,” he said. “Her strength, size, and athleticism positioned her well to adjust to the college game. The exciting thing was that she managed to score goals while she was getting acclimated to the much faster and more tactically demanding college game.”
He was also pleased with his freshman off the field.
“It’s always good to have a few players like her with a unique personality and sense of humor to keep things light around the team,” Idland said. “She knows how to work hard and relax at the same time.”
Follman was particularly surprised with her goal total, second on the team.
“Not at all (did I expect to score 11 goals),” she said. “I thought I was going to be a benchwarmer.”
Follman earned second-team all-AMCC honors.
“To have a freshman score in the double digits is a pretty rare occurrence,” Idland said. “Prior to this season, I hadn’t had one come close.”
However this season, fellow freshman Maggie Boehler scored 13 to lead the Panthers.
Follman siad she’s played in summer leagues and indoor leagues, but never anywhere on the scale of international play. She’s continuing workouts and practices, “so that hopefully when I’m down there, I’m not the worst one.”
Idland said the trip will be a great opportunity for Follman.
“Because the nearest premier club soccer is very far away from Salamanca, Tess is one of the only players on our roster who came to us without much experience playing with other top players outside of her own high school,” he said. “I think going to Brazil to play with other top Division III players will be a great experience for Tess, and it can only help us as she comes back to us a more seasoned player in the fall.”