By Ray Hamill — Former St. Bernard’s standout Maddie Costa returns to the North Coast this coming week, when Lake Tahoe CC plays at College of the Redwoods in women’s soccer.
For Costa, it’s been an unlikely journey, but one she’s learned from, both on and off the field, and one she now seems to be enjoying.
And why wouldn’t she, playing for the No. 1 ranked D-III community college team in the nation, and an elite program that has been among the best in the country and a national championship contender in recent years.
“I was super, super nervous about going to such a successful team,” Costa said. “But I like it now.”
It’s step up from playing for an North Coast Section Division-III team, but one she’s embraced.
“It’s very competitive. Everyone takes it seriously,” she said, before adding with a chuckle, “and we don’t lose very much.”
The Coyotes certainly don’t.
After closing out last season as the No. 3 team in the nation, they are off to a 9-0-2 start this season and have not lost a regular season game since 2017.
The Coyotes are also ranked No. 1 in the country according to the United Soccer Coaches Top 25 NJCAA DIII poll.
Costa, who splits time in goal with fellow freshman Maddie Smith, a Division-I prospect, almost never joined the team.
“I wasn’t planning on playing sports out of high school,” she said. “But the coach reached out, and it was super last minute, and then I went to visit and I liked it.”
The area, she says, reminds her of Humboldt, which made the transition easier, while the school, which is small with around 1,000 students, reminds her of St. Bernard’s.
Costa’s game has also benefited from the move, and she’s quickly adapted to playing at a much higher level.
“You have to talk to your defenders more (in college), and I’m still learning what to tell my teammates,” she said. “And also I use my feet a lot more than I did in high school.”
Costa says she has also benefitted from playing alongside Smith, whom she shares a house with, and the two are developing a close bond.
“I’ve been learning a lot from her,” Costa said.
At St. Bernard’s, Costa was a four-year varsity player, earning a pair of all-league awards as well as being named MVP.
She switched to goal in her junior season and has only been playing the position for a little over two years.
And she says she’s looking forward to the trip home for Tuesday’s game.
“I’m super excited,” she said.