Opposing teams fear senior forward Alyssa Thren. The Bears’ field hockey star is used to being shadowed around the field. This became especially obvious in a game against Haverford on October 5. In a sport where most one-to-one coverage occurs within the circle in front of the goal, Thren’s defender never left her side during the game. It got so intense, that when Thren jogged over to speak to her coach on the sideline, her defender tagged along too.
“It does get frustrating,” Thren says about the smothering defense. “A few teams now even have a system that if I touch the ball, they put two girls on me right away and double team.”
You can’t exactly blame her opponents.
How else are they going to attempt to shut down one of the nation’s best Division III players? Thren is the all-time leading goal scorer in Centennial Conference and Ursinus history with 96 career goals. She also has the two highest goals scored in a season (34 in 2009 and 2010) and was named third team All-America and First Team All-Region the past two years. This season, she is tied for first on the team in goals (13) and leads the team in assists (5) and shots (75) She is one of the biggest reasons why the Bears are 10–3 as of Oct. 17 and ranked 11th in the nation. They are in the hunt for the National Title — something they last accomplished in 2006.
“Alyssa is dangerous in every single game we play,” says head field hockey coach Janelle Benner. “She’s attack-minded, and has excellent stick skills. She also is always one of, if not the, fastest girl on the field.”
Thren has also thrived academically. She carries a 3.6 grade point average with an Exercise and Sports Science major and a minor in coaching. She hopes to become a physical education teacher and coach after graduation, a life choice that runs in the family. Her father, Greg, and mother, Vikki, are both teachers at Thren’s high school, Upper Perkiomen. Her mother is a physical education teacher and coached field hockey and lacrosse for years (although never her daughters) and her father is a social studies teacher and assistant girls’ basketball coach.
“It’s nice to have parents I can talk to about sports because they understand the game and know what it’s like to be both an athlete and a coach,” says Thren. “Sometimes they can be sympathetic, but most times they are just tough — but that’s usually what I need.”
Thren spent the summer away from home between her junior and senior year, pursuing research opportunities as a Summer Fellow. She conducted an independent research project under Del Engstrom, Chair of the Exercise and Sports Science Department, comparing men and women’s coaching behaviors in female sports. Although no significant conclusions were drawn, Dr. Engstrom was thrilled with Thren’s work ethic and commitment to the project.
“Alyssa is a creative thinker and is fully capable of completing complex projects while having the diligence to follow through with her commitments,” says Engstrom. “More importantly, she demonstrates a genuine interest in the learning process and constantly strives to improve herself.” – Ellen Labrecque
Read more about Alissa Thren in the winter issue of Ursinus Magazine.