Oct. 22, 2013
Among the collection of young, promising talent on the Southern Miss women's soccer team, none have been used as frequently as Somer Jones, a true freshman who has started all but two matches and is among the team leaders in minutes played.
"She is still young and developing but we have been pleasantly surprised," head coach Mohammed El-Zare said. "We did not expect her to progress so quickly. For a freshman who is being asked to play as many minutes and contribute in as many ways, she has done a great job."
Jones, a native of Mandeville, La., and graduate of Fontainebleau High School, is listed as a midfielder and forward and has been used in every way in the positions that her dual title encompasses, and has even made the occasional foray into the defensive back line.
"Her versatility and adaptability gives us a lot of options in terms of setting up our attack or our defense," El-Zare said. "Any time I want to make an adjustment, she is involved, which says a lot about her confidence, ability and humility as a player."
Jones views it all as part of the role a freshman assumes when she desires to contribute in her first year of college soccer.
"I didn't expect (the playing time) at all," Jones said. "It's definitely a pleasure and an honor to be given this chance. I feel comfortable in any position. Honestly, I want to play so wherever Coach Mo asks me to go, I will go and do my best to help the team. A lot of credit goes to Coach. He does a good job of putting players in positions that will help them succeed and help the team."
Jones has started 15-of-17 matches this season and rarely is subbed out of games.
"She came into camp as one of the fittest players on the team," El-Zare said. "She is a hard-working, blue-collar player. She does her job, no matter what we ask her to do. You never have to mention her name during a match because the job is getting done."
Jones is also one of the more attentive, willing learners on the team, another trait that has helped her to smoothly transition into Division I athletics.
"She asks questions if she is not clear which tells me she is coachable and willing to learn," El-Zare said. "Then she takes what you tell her and executes. She shows up every day and gives an honest performance. She is a player that we will count on to help us grow as a program."
Jones, ever humble, said she feels she still has more to learn.
"I knew there was going to be a lot to learn going from high school to college but I had no idea how much until I got here," Jones said. "There's still a lot to learn, every day. The fact that I expected to need to learn a lot has sort of helped. I think you have to be open to instruction and constructive criticism from your coaches and your teammates. They are all here to help. You take what they say, learn from it and try to get better."
Jones has improved at an amazing rate and is becoming more and more important to the Golden Eagle game plan, but she maintains an attitude of humility.
"That is Somer," El-Zare said. "She is humble and quiet, but always reliable. She takes everything in stride, whether you are complimenting her or pointing out areas where she can improve. That's a quality you look for in an athlete."
Jones and the Golden Eagles will wrap their 2013 home schedule this weekend with matches against East Carolina Friday at 3 p.m. and Old Dominion Sunday at 1 p.m.