Since head coach Mikki Denney Wright took over the University of Minnesota women's soccer program, she has expected the team to be excellent in many aspects of the game, but one of the main keys that Denney Wright has initiated into her program is for her players to play with swag. Swag is defined as the way you carry yourself with confidence and style, and there is no other player that has fit this facet of the program like senior midfielder Shari Eckstrom.
"It has been a joy to watch Shari develop as a player and a leader in our program through the past four years and I have loved coaching her," said Denney Wright. "Her passion and enthusiasm are contagious within our team and her energy lights a fire in our group."
As a freshman, Eckstrom played in 21 games and served as an offensive spark off the bench with tallying three goals in her inaugural season. The Brooklyn Park, Minn. native made an immediate impact on the 2008 squad by notching a goal in her first-career match (Northern Iowa, August 22, 2008). Her freshman campaign ended with an exclamation point with the team winning the Big Ten Championship as well as reaching the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament.
Eckstrom became a staple in the midfield for the Golden Gophers during her sophomore season with starting 18-of-19 matches. She became one of Minnesota's most potent offensive threats by recording 29 shots and dealing out four assists. The business marketing major also excelled off the field by garnering the first of two Academic All-Big Ten honors in 2009.
In her junior year, she had a breakout season by finishing second on the team in scoring with 19 points (seven goals, five assists) and first in the Big Ten with 80 shots. Eckstrom started all 23 games for the Gophers and shared the team's 2010 Midfield Most Valuable Player Award with Molly Rouse.
"Shari is our #10, in other words, she is an outstanding playmaker with great vision and passing ability. She sets our plays from the midfield and dictates our attacking rhythm. Shari is a dynamic attacking player with the ability to set up goals and score goals in many different ways."
Now as a senior, Eckstrom is one of four seniors on a Gophers squad that has hopes of recapturing the Big Ten crown and making it back to the NCAA Tournament after reaching the Sweet 16 in 2010.
"Shari is always willing to hold our team to the highest standard and is fiercely committed to her own growth and development. She has added her special flare to our program, and Minnesota Soccer will never be the same without her."