City College senior soccer player Rabiah Elisa scored 25 goals last season to help the Knights to the Baltimore City title.  City lost a bulk of the team through graduation and are very young in 2010. Elisa will be counted on to lead the Knights through their growing pains in hopes of repeating as champions.

VSN: Talk a little about how special last year’s Baltimore City championship team was?

Last year, we had a team with amazing chemistry, a sound knowledge of the game and a determination to win. We were so aware of each other’s individual strengths on the field that our trust was immensely strong. We were all on the same page and had the same mindset: to play hard and win hard. What was truly special about our championship team was that winning wasn’t enough for us. We wanted to be a force and a threat to every team in the city.

VSN: What are the expectations for the Knights this season?

The expectations are undoubtedly higher for the Knights this year. We’re looking to be two-time city champions, of course, but also make and take states!

VSN: You have a big rivalry game against Poly on Monday, most people think it’s only a football thing but how big is it to beat the “other school”?

In every aspect of school life, whether it be extra curricular, clubs, sports, or academia, we’re proud to show that “other school” up. Poly has openly remarked that they think they’re superior to City in general and we’re ready to once again, show them how a Knight really fights. It’s not just for the sake of competition but it’s also fun to have a particular “rival”. This is a fervent 100-plus year tradition that is fueled by the school spirit and morale of both City and Poly students and faculty, both current and former.

VSN: How long have you been playing soccer? What do you like most about it?

I have been happily playing soccer since second grade. I love every aspect of the sport, really. The level of endurance and determination it requires, the intensity of every play executed and how it simply challenges our natural hand-ball coordination.

VSN: Who are the people you rely on, who have helped and influenced you: teammates, coaches, family, friends?

My father is very influential in my life. He has always encouraged me to do and be better no matter how well I perform. This has always kept me humble and focused. Although, at times, this seemed like insatiable dissatisfaction, I know that he is trying to help mold a mind, set for greatness and a strong woman, limitless and fully capable. Being good by comparison has never been enough for me. I always want to make sure I do my very best and use every blessing that has been bestowed upon me.

VSN: What do you see as your strengths and your weaknesses on the soccer field?

Lets be honest, as far as terminology goes, I am not a great soccer player.  And that is surely my weakness. However, what allows me to achieve what I do on the field is my confidence. No matter what the other team or player’s reputation, I have this sort of blind faith that despite their skill level, I will find a way to beat them. If I start a game doubting myself or my team, that psychological self deprecation translates negatively in to how I play.  The moment I begin to doubt myself, I become vulnerable to my opponent. Therefore, they will never catch me slipping on that attitude, and in turn, won’t catch me slipping in my will to win every ball, every play, every game.

VSN: Any pregame rituals or superstitions?

On the way to games, I always talk to my teammates about how they’re feeling. If it is a team we’ve already played, we converse about what we know about their offensive and defensive players and their game strategy in general. A lot of people like to get in a “zone” with their music and what not and occasionally, that is a nice pre-game ritual but only when I don’t feel focused enough myself. If I am ready to get on that field and play with my all, I want to make sure my teammates and I are on the same page.

VSN: How was your summer? Did you do anything soccer related? Did you catch any of the World Cup?

My summer was exhausting, which is ironic for such a leisurely season. I worked in Boston, my hometown, with the Franklin Park Coalition doing park maintenance: uprooting invasive trees, and cutting down Japanese Knotweed and hosting sports nights for youth in the community. I absolutely loved every moment of it– the spiders, the bug bites, the stinging nettle, the poison ivy and the heat alike.  I did catch the World Cup! Or as my mother would accidentally say, “Super Cup” or “World War Cup”. Although I was rooting for Germany, Spain played hard and deserved the title. The refs were aggravating this year though! So many ridiculously wrong and unexplainable calls were made. Especially the foul given to the US that took away their goal while playing Slovenia! That was about to be the ultimate comeback.

VSN: If you could play soccer in college for any school, who would it be and why?

Well, in terms of academics and occupational pursuit, I am really interested in going to New York University so I guess I would like to be able to play soccer there as well. However, if I was to be recruited for soccer for any of the school’s I’m applying to, it would be Stanford or Penn State. They are both amazing schools for education and sports. They have impressive, nationally ranked soccer teams and to top it off, I am intrigued by the departments of communications/journalism and international studies offered at both schools.

VSN: What is something that most people don’t know about you?

Something most people don’t know about me is that I could watch Golden Girl reruns ad nauseam. That is my favorite group of girls. They’re all just so witty and fun. Sometimes I wish I was right there in that kitchen with them, eating a midnight cheesecake and discussing my troubles. The few people that know of my obsession think I have an old soul but, on the contrary, they keep me young!