If the game is down to the wire and the Gophers need a goal, or someone just needs a smile on their face, senior Sydney Squires is the one they turn to.
While she didn’t start in many games last season, Squires made an impact on the field, maintained a light and comfortable locker room, and she looks to do that again this season.
“Off the field I am super goofy,” Squires said. “I’m rarely super serious.”
Squires and her relaxed attitude led her to score the opening goal in the Big Ten title game last season, and also keeps her dancing about in the locker room.
Of the returning players from last season, Squires is the leading goal scorer, and her impact on the field will be felt if the team can avenge its upset defeat in the opening round of the NCAA tournament last year.
While she is focused and at times eccentric, teammates said Squires can be the team’s much-needed mental check and the game winning goal all in one.
Off the field, it can be a wild adventure with Squires, as one of her teammates found early in their relationship.
Just into her first year, then-freshman Tori Burnett woke up to an interesting sound — pan flute music.
“I had this Native American pan-flute music, and it was super relaxing, [so] I had it on one night to fall asleep,” Squires said.
First year roommates often have their differences, but most of them are conscious. For Burnett and Squires, it was sleep.
Squires said she can sleep like a rock, while Burnett could wake up to the drop of a pin.
“[Burnett] woke up in the morning and said, ‘[Sydney], did you hear this music last night?... It was like this Indian pan-flute music,’” Squires said.
At that point, Squires knew her sleep aid had kept her new roommate up through the night. Burnett — now a senior — has been Squires’ roommate since freshman year, and said Squires is one of those people you want to hang around with all the time.
“She’s just goofy,” Burnett said. “She’s just so much fun… She just makes everything way more fun.”
The pan-flute music is just one example of Squires’ personality that Burnett has encountered.Burnett also found Squires’ musical tastes can deviate from pan flute — in the extreme.
“She has three moods of music,” Burnett said. “Christmas, very crazy rap or Aretha Franklin. Very different. It's just hilarious any time you see her bumping her jams.”
Kickstart the season
The Gophers’ regular season has begun. Minnesota is ranked No. 20, tying Washington State in its first match of the season. Squires will try to keep the mood light as the season continues.
“She just has the light, bubbly personality that gets everyone less nervous,” said senior forward Kellie McGahn. “It kind of just calms everyone down.”
When she’s not making the difficult game situations lighter, Squires can be found joking around with her teammates to keep everyone’s spirits high.
“I feel like it is kind of my role,” Squires said. “Some of my other teammates are more serious, so I am the person that tries to keep it light and fun.”
Squires’ role hasn’t changed much since her days playing club soccer on the east side of the Twin Cities.
While playing for St. Croix Academy with fellow Gophers’ teammates Megan Koenig and Julianna Gernes, the team won the 2013 Minnesota State Cup.
“She [used to] throw some random, non-soccer, funny story that might have happened to her [before the game],” said Nathan Klonecki, her coach with SCA, and current coaching director for the organization. “At that moment, where it’s kind of serious ... she brought everybody back down to, ‘OK, it’s just a game.’”
Her teammates still notice that role, too, and it brings a smile to their faces.
“[Squires] is somebody who connects with everyone on the team,” Koenig said. “She can make anyone laugh or anyone feel uncomfortable in a good way.”
The forward played in all 23 games last season, and had eight goals, the highest of any returning player for Minnesota.
“[Squires] is a goal scorer,” said head coach Stefanie Golan. “It’s who she is, it’s what she does. She has a swagger to her, and hasn’t let the fact that she hasn’t been consistently in the starting lineup impact her.”
While Squires did play in all 23 games last season, she only started in two.
She has an opportunity to play even more this season with the top two offensive players of Simone Kolander and Josee Stiever graduating.
“The piece that we’re hoping to see growth in this season is consistency,” Golan said. “That is something that is hard for an attacking player to get because you are scoring goals, [and] people start to focus on you.”
Playing a lot is important to her, Squires said, and she wants to be on the field to make an impact, whether it be scoring goals or being a leader for the rest of her team.
Last season, Minnesota’s final game ended in a shootout, upset loss in the first round of the NCAA tournament, during a year where it finished first in the Big Ten for the first time in Squires’ career.
While the team did win the Big Ten Tournament last season and shared the regular season title, the Gophers are ranked fifth in the conference’s preseason poll.
Squires will try to help her team get past the first round of the NCAA tournament, and have fun while they try to get there.
“I personally play better when I’m comfortable and light,” Squires said. “If I can bring that with me, I think that’ll help hopefully at least one other person.”