Women’s soccer’s Berndt ‘determined’ to win

Andy Jobanek

Whitman’s women’s soccer (3-2-1) won their home opener 1-0 over Warner Pacific on Sept. 7, with sophomore Corina Gabbert heading in the first goal of the season nearly eight minutes into the game. Women

The Missionaries played dominantly, having 15 shots on goal compared to Warner Pacific’s one. Three of those shots on goal were from senior forward Kristen Berndt who has led Whitman in goals each of the past three years.

Berndt appears to be picking up where she left off last year when she led the Northwest Conference in shots per game at 5.12 and was second in scoring. In her sophomore season, Berndt led the conference in shots per game and finished third in scoring. Both years she was voted to the All-Northwest Conference First Team. The biggest honor, though, came after her junior year when D3Kicks.com chose her as a First Team All-American in addition to being named Outstanding Junior Female Athlete at Whitman.

Even after all the awards, Berndt stays humble.

“Every year I come back just happy to be playing soccer again,” said Berndt. “I’ve loved every single year.”

All the individual awards don’t get into her head, though, as Berndt is team-oriented.

“I think you get such a feeling of family within your team,” she said.

Her immense gifts have not gone unnoticed by Coach Scott Shields.

“The best thing [about Kristen] is her determination to win, as well as her desire to be on a team,” said Shields. “She can be down 100 goals to zero, and she’d still think she could win.”
Berndt’s teammates also appreciate the way she helps them out.

“She’s a really good motivator. Never gets down on anyone,” said first-year Audrey Tehan.
The one negative aspect facing Berndt in her final year is that she has to play injured, which has been a nagging issue throughout her career. She’s twice had to have surgery and will have to have another one after the season.

“It’s a struggle,” said Berndt. “I was hoping that when I was coming out of season that I’d be where I was the last three years.”

Despite injuries, Berndt already knows what she wants out of the season.

“We’ve been fourth in conference every single year I’ve been here. I’d love to be in the top two in conference,” she said.

Soccer is not all that defines Berndt. During the spring semester of her junior year, she studied abroad in Botswana. While she was there she taught kids in the town of Molepolole who were in the equivalent of fifth grade in the United States. She specifically worked with the kids on mathematical angles.

“I had them take a quiz on angles and that day they all got nine out of 10 and 10 out of 10,” said Berndt.

When the kids were studying under the teacher before her, they only scored around three or four out of 10. Her talent as a teacher may continue as Berndt is in the process of applying
to Teach for America.

A personal highlight from her time in Molepolole is when she got to play soccer with some men from the town. She stuck out as the only white person and the only woman playing with them, but they all encouraged her on. However, it ended with a surprise.
“As I’m leaving the field a guy says to me, ‘Hey, next time don’t play with the prison team,'” said Berndt.

Apparently, she had jumped in on a game between inmates during their recreational time in the park.

Back at Whitman, Berndt is preparing for her oral examinations as a senior history major. Her topic is on music as a form of protest. She is also a member of the Delta Gamma sorority, having twice been an officer within the sorority. Berndt was also a member of the Student Athletic Advisory Committee as a sophomore and junior.

Before she leaves, Berndt has a few words of advice for her younger teammates.
“I would just say work hard. The beauty of playing at a D-3 school is that the opportunities are endless,” she said.