Claire Mathews, the captain of the PLNU women’s soccer team, is the Pac West Defender of the Year. But that’s not all.
Mathews was named the Capital One Academic All-American and named to the NSCAA Women’s Soccer All-Region team, with PLNU player Dottie Rhouten.
While Mathews excelled on the field and in the classroom, she prefers to discuss her team’s accomplishments.
“From the beginning of the season, everyone was really committed. It was a unified effort and it was great to see everyone working toward the same goal, no pun intended,” Mathews said.
Mathew’s friends and coaches have only respect for her as a student, athlete and friend.
“Claire is consistent, reliable, compassionate, understanding and goofy,” said good friend Sarah Parker, a senior at PLNU. “She is easy to talk to and super fun to be around.”
Tim Hall, the women’s soccer head coach, said when Mathews was first offered captainship at the beginning of the year, she hesitated and asked if she could pray about it first.
“She’s just a class act. She’s one of the classiest people I’ve ever met,” said Hall. “I’ve been coaching men and women’s soccer for years, and every once in a while you get an athlete that is really respected by everyone they meet, and that’s Claire.”
Mathews is a senior engineering-physics major from Santa Barbara, California. She first started playing soccer when she was eight, and never quit.
“I started playing because one of my good friends played, and I wanted to do what she did,” said Mathews.
She continued playing because she loved the game and the camaraderie it created.
“I just love the game,” Mathews said. “I love being outside and I love passing the ball around with my teammates, and I love how anywhere you go, you can always pass the ball or play a quick game.”
She decided to come to PLNU when a friend told her about the school.
“I had a friend who wanted to go here,” said Mathews. “I looked into it, and saw that they had a great soccer team. So I went through the recruiting process and now here I am.”
She immediately clicked with the team and the coaching staff.
“Each year is a slightly different group of girls, and it’s been cool to see all of the spiritual growth,” she said. “I’ve been able to have great conversations with the team, and I’ve seen the skill level of the player’s grow.”
Hall has no doubts about her work ethic on and off the field.
“She is a tireless worker,” said Hall. “She just works hard all the time. There is never a lack of effort.”
This season showcased Mathews’ versatility. She switched to the center-back position, a position she’s never played before.
“I think the fact that she won all of those awards while playing a new position really says a lot about who she is as a player,” said Hall.
Despite her accomplishments, Mathews remains humble
“I’m just grateful that I got to play soccer here,” said Matthews. “This season was truly amazing, and the girls on the team are like my sisters.”