ND Women’s Soccer
Gilbertson’s style shaped by Costa Rican roots
Brian Hartnett | Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Notre Dame junior forward Anna Maria Gilbertson admits that her loose and flashy playing style is partially a byproduct of her international soccer experience.
This experience, however, hasn’t been gained with the United States Women’s National Team, though she has trained with the team before. Rather, it’s been cultivated through her work with the Costa Rica Women’s National Team.
Gilbertson, whose mother, Maria, hails from Costa Rica, said the style of soccer in the nation is different from that of its larger North American counterpart.
“When you’ve trained in Costa Rica, I don’t think it’s as … strict,” she said. “You can just kind of go at people, and I think that’s helped me with my creativity. … It’s really helped me grow my instincts, so when I’m on the field, if I want to go at someone, I have good instincts to know how to go at them and to go with speed. I think that’s helped me a lot, just with my little bit of flair and attitude.”This playing style has allowed Gilbertson plenty of looks this season — she is currently second on the No. 20 Irish with 25 total shots, 11 of those on goal. Gilbertson’s only goal of the season came in Notre Dame’s season-opening 3-1 win over Illinois on Aug. 22, but she said that the opportunities to score have been present.
“We work well up top, and I’ll just work my hardest to make the best opportunities possible when I’m on the field,” Gilbertson said. “… I’m always trying to look at the goal. I think that’s one thing I like to do a lot is just be able to look for shots and look to score from wherever I am on the field.”
Irish coach Theresa Romagnolo said she considers Gilbertson one of her team’s most potent scoring threats.
“Anna’s got a lot of ability to go one-v-one; she’s got good pace, and she’s got fantastic shots,” Romagnolo said. “So, she’s somebody who can be dangerous in a lot of different ways.”
In her third year at Notre Dame, Gilbertson is no stranger to the Irish offense. She scored five goals in her freshman season, tallied four goals last year and added two goals against international competition in exhibitions this past spring.
But this year, Gilbertson already has earned six starts in nine games, one shy of the seven starts she earned all of last season. Gilbertson said her increased play is largely due to her experience.
“As an upperclassmen, I am more experienced now just because I’ve been here for two years, and I know how things kind of work around here,” she said. “I’ve been working hard and just getting as many minutes as possible, and I’m very happy to start and do the best on the field for my team.”
Gilbertson’s family roots don’t just extend to international soccer; they provide the basis for her interest in her major — neuroscience and behavior, one of the newest majors on campus.
Gilbertson’s mother is a virologist, and her father is a professor of plant pathology at the University of California-Davis, which helped foster the California native’s love of biology.
“I always grew up hanging out in their lab at the university and being around with a lot of grad students and watching them do experiments,” Gilbertson said. “I love biology, so I think that came from my parents basically.”
With Notre Dame set to embark on a two-game road trip to No. 2 Virginia Tech and Wake Forest this weekend, Gilbertson sounded optimistic about her team’s future.
“I think our team is extremely talented and awesome and great and a Final Four team,” she said. “… I think we need to refocus and just leave everything behind us and realize that we’re going to beat Virginia Tech, we’re going to beat [Wake Forest].”