As of last Thursday, junior Chloe Wheeler of women’s Soccer has broken a record at Vassar College. The midfielder/offender scored her ninth career game-winning goal on September 15 in a game vs. State University of New York Plattsburgh, bringing her to the number one spot for women’s Soccer game-winners in the record books.
Wheeler started playing soccer at age four, eventually getting serious about the sport in late middle school after participating in a club team. She was named Second Team All-League her junior year. Her senior year, as a captain, she was named MVP, First Team All-League and Third Team All-County. Her high school team rose to be league champions three times.
Despite her accomplishments, Wheeler mostly enjoys the team aspect of soccer. “The fact that it’s a team sport made me love it even more,” she said. “You meet your best friends on the team, and you learn so much being on a team, about life in general. You just mature a lot and learn a lot of life lessons. That sounds cheesy, but it’s definitely true.”
The soccer team was one reason that Wheeler chose Vassar. After being recruited her junior year of high school at a tournament in Texas, she did some research on the school. “I didn’t really know what Vassar was until the soccer coach emailed me. I came on a visit just to meet the coach and see the school, and I fell in love with the campus as most people do when they come here,” she said.
She continued, “The second time, which was my official visit, I really loved the girls. I had such a great time and it just felt right. I saw other schools, but I didn’t really get that feeling until I came here to Vassar.”
Wheeler’s freshman year, she started in 16 out of 17 matches and had two goals and one assist. Both goals won the games for the Brewers, and she led the team in game-winning goals. During her sophomore year, both she and the team had a lift. “Sophomore year was when I really hit my groove with the team,” she said. “We got a new coach that year, and I feel like that changed us so much for the better in terms of team chemistry and coaching style, and it was just very easy to get to know her quickly,” Wheeler explained. “She was the perfect balance of being a coach and being professional, but also being there for us and facilitating a team environment.”
Wheeler started in all 17 games her sophomore year, putting in nine goals and one assist and therefore leading the team in points with 19. Five of her goals were game-winning goals, which set a single-season record for the Brewers. In October she was named Liberty League Performer of the Week, and by the end of the season, she had been named Honorable Mention for All-Liberty League, Liberty League All-Academic Team and second place for game-winning goals with a total of seven.
So far this year, Wheeler has scored five goals in games vs. Mount Saint Mary College, Stevens Institute of Technology, Haverford College and SUNY Plattsburgh. Two of those goals brought her to the number one spot for game-winners.
Wheeler recalls the moment she broke the school record. “I heard the announcement on the loudspeaker and you can’t really describe that feeling,” she said. “It’s kind of crazy, but I can remember everything about it—my team just huddling and everyone jumping on me. It was just one of those moments that you want to remember forever, and that you will remember forever,” she said. “That’s also the other thing about Vassar: how small the campus is and basically knowing someone wherever you go. It’s awesome to have that community feel, and everyone is just kind of rooting for you.”
As a lead scorer on the team, Wheeler acknowledges the fact that her ability comes from her mentality. “I have a routine before every game. I have to listen to the same song right before we start, and we have our team thing right before we do our games, and that really gets me going. I kind of just remember how important soccer has been to me throughout my whole life, and how much I love it,” she said. “I am always anxious before games, but it’s a good thing. I feel it in a positive way, and I definitely really get into the zone before games.”
She continued, “That moment before the whistle blows, I’m ready to go and I always feel that that routine helps me to be in a positive state, mentally and physically.”
As for the accomplishments, senior forward and midfielder Gavriella Kaplan knows what to expect from Wheeler. “I’m not surprised that Chloe broke the school record for the most game-winning goals. Honestly, I expect her to break more records before she graduates. She is a fierce competitor. And even though she is often double and triple-teamed, she always comes out on top.”
Kaplan added, “Wheeler can score in her sleep. I am just happy that I get to play with Chloe instead of against her.”
Senior forward Sheeva Seyfi feels the same way. “Every team needs a player like Chloe,” she wrote in an emailed statement. “She knows the game insanely well, knows when to make which run and as a result is a defender’s worst nightmare. On top of that, she knows how to score. Even under high-pressure situations, she’s able to stay composed and get the job done.”
Wheeler reciprocates confidence in her teammates as well and feels that this season has prepared them for Liberty League play. “We have so much talent on this team and so much potential, and we’re getting there. Our record right now is 4-3-1…so we’ve experienced the whole spectrum. I’d say it’s really good that we’re experiencing this now before Liberty Leagues,” she said. “This is one of the first years where everyone has been on the same page in terms of where we want to be with our season. This year everyone really wants it. I can definitely feel it.”
Overall, Wheeler will surely remember her time here with women’s Soccer. “It’s something you’re never going to forget,” she said. “It’s something you’re going to keep with you forever.”