This week TSL caught up with Allie Tao PO ’14, star
attacking midfielder for the Pomona-Pitzer women’s soccer team. Described by
Coach Tony Basso as a “class above the rest,” Tao was named the 2013 SCIAC
Women’s Soccer Player of the Year in a vote by the league’s coaches. Tao led
the Sagehens with 11 goals and six assists for the season, while finishing
third in program history in both goals scored (28) and total points (71). She
had a remarkable week during the season when she had consecutive hat tricks in wins over Chapman University and Whittier College.
TSL: How and when did
you start playing soccer?
Allie Tao: As far
as I remember, I started playing soccer when I was five years old. My dad bought
me a bounce-back net, which is how it all started. It’s one of the reasons I’m
TSL: Have you played
any other sports?
AT: I actually
played basketball from second to eighth grade. I tried out
softball as well, which in retrospect wasn’t a great idea. But I always loved
soccer so much more, which is why I pursued it.
TSL: Did you play
soccer in high school?
AT: I played club
soccer during the winter season. Our team was very competitive and I had to do
my best to earn a starting spot. We actually managed to win the CIF-NCS (California Interscholastic Federation North Coast Section) in one
of the hardest regions in the U.S.
TSL: What do you
think is your best position on the pitch?
attacking midfielder on the wing. It gives me more space to run and dribble
past defenders using my technical skills and speed.
TSL: How was the
start of your soccer career at Pomona and has your experience changed over the
AT: At the
beginning, the P-P women’s soccer team wasn’t the strongest program. We
tended to focus more on our technical skills rather than tactics. However, all
our players this year were very sound technically, which allowed us to focus
more on tactics and helped build up great team chemistry.
TSL: How do you view
your final season at Pomona-Pitzer?
AT: It was great.
We played some really amazing soccer this year. I do wish we could have done
better in the playoffs. I’ve never been to the NCAA championship, which is a
disappointment, but I do believe with time, our team can forge a stronger
winning mentality which will serve well for the future.
TSL: Your thoughts on
the rest of the team, especially Coach Tony Basso?
AT: A truly
amazing group of people. It’s the nicest team I’ve ever played on. Everyone
genuinely cared about each other, on and off the pitch, which was great. I hope
the team chemistry that we had this year stays strong and continues in the
TSL: Your thoughts on
Coach Tony Basso?
AT: He really
understands soccer and all its intricacies. Also, even though he isn’t
expressive, he really cares about each and every member of the team and how
they were feeling throughout the year. You could say it was kind of like
TSL: Most memorable
match of your career?
AT: It has to be
the first game we played against Chapman this year. It was the most beautiful
soccer we’ve ever played … I felt a part of an amazing unit as
there was great fluidity, quick one-touches, and we took our opportunities in
front of goal.
TSL: How did it feel to be named SCIAC Player
of the Year by the league’s coaches?
AT: I felt really
honored. I’m glad I could score goals to help my team.
TSL: Do you follow
AT: I do. My
favorite team is Barcelona. I really admire their soccer philosophy and how
they nurture their youth players to stay true to it through their academy La
TSL: All time
favorite soccer match and player? Do you model your own playing style based on
any professional player?
AT: The El
Classico when Barcelona beat Real Madrid 5-0. My favorite player and
inspiration is [Lionel] Messi. His penetrative dribbling in between defenders and his
eye for goal is simply breathtaking.
TSL: Did you study
AT: I went to
Prague. I played indoor soccer there against Czech guys since no girls
played there. They were surprised that an Asian-American girl was playing with
them. However, I shocked them even more when they realized I could actually
compete with them and beat them!
TSL: Any pre-match
meal and rituals?
AT: It’s usually
a toasted bagel with sesame seeds or sometimes corn and black olives. Pre-match
rituals include wearing the right sock before the left. And also listening to “Wake Me Up” by Avicii.
TSL: TSL insiders
report you are a huge fan of Japanese food. Is that right?
AT: Yes it is. My favorite
restaurant in Claremont is Hayato, next to Sushi Cruise.
TSL: How did it feel
to be playing in the same team as your younger sister Katie (PO ’17)?
AT: It was the greatest thing. I’m really
close with my sister. Our soccer playing styles reflect our personalities.
She’s really composed while I play more spontaneously. I really am the hyper
one! She makes me play better though, and watching her score against CMS [Claremont-Mudd-Scripps] was
TSL: How was your overall Pomona experience
and what are your plans after college?
AT: It’s been an
A+ experience. Right now, I’m applying to health-related jobs and research
opportunities. I might just head to med school eventually, maybe.