PITTSBURGH, Pa. (Aug. 31, 2018) — To say Amanda Miller thrived this season for Steel City FC is an understatement.
Miller, a striker at Fordham University, elected to spend her summer in the Women’s Premier Soccer League. Completely new to the league, Miller, who is from the North Hills, found a rhythm under head coach Tom Ovenden.
However, it wasn’t all sunshine and roses. It took hard work, but Miller put the time and effort into working with Ovenden’s system. Because of her efforts, Miller scored five goals and provided two assists.
She led Steel City FC in goals this season.
For that, she was recently named to the WPSL East Region All-Conference Team. She was the only player voted for the honor from Steel City FC.
Miller said she was “surprised” by the accolade.
“I never really have been recognized in such a wide region, but I am happy with it,” Miller said. “It made me excited for my upcoming soccer season.”
Right now, Miller is currently featuring as a striker for Fordham University. She is entering her junior year with the team and wanted to keep her fitness level high during the summer. After hearing positive reviews of Steel City FC from friends, she tried out.
However, Miller didn’t have to worry about breaking into a veteran, well-known squad. The entire team was virtually new, as it was Ovenden’s first year as head coach.
“He’s a lot different from any coach I’ve had before,” Miller said of Ovenden. “I thought he was a lot of fun and he had some really good advice. He is a very skilled and knowledgeable coach.”
“A learning experience”
Miller didn’t just want to keep her fitness up with Steel City FC. She also wanted to learn more about the tactical aspects of the game.
She also found her love for soccer and having fun with the sport.
“It’s very different from playing at college,” Miller explained. “Not just system-wise, but there’s not as much pressure on you. It’s more fun and I realized how much fun soccer is again. The most enjoyable part isn’t whether you’re winning or losing, but when you’re playing your heart out and having fun with it.”
“As a team we embraced that, despite what the scores were.”
Steel City FC finished in the middle of the Ohio Valley Conference this year. The largest conference in the entire league, the Ohio Valley Conference holds nine teams. Steel City FC finished in sixth place with a record of 2-5-1.
Miller said the biggest challenge was finding quick team chemistry, but insisted that the team progressed with chemistry quicker rather than slower.
“The group of girls they had this year meshed really well together,” Miller said. “They were really willing to listen to each other. We were able to figure things out together and we had a lot of fun together.”
Miller was around a familiar face, though: former North Allegheny high school teammate Maddie Layman. Layman went on to continue her soccer career at Duquesne University, but has since graduated.
“It was cool to play with her again and form a different relationship than we had before,” Miller said.
Pittsburgh, Pro or Biology?
Miller said she doesn’t know where she’ll end up next summer.
However, should the biological sciences major end up in Pittsburgh, she won’t hesitate to join Steel City FC for a second season.
“[Ovenden] has mentioned to me that he wants me to come back,” Miller said. “I don’t know where I’m going to end up next summer, but if I’m back in Pittsburgh, I’ll do it again.”
She said that she wants the sport — and support — to grow around Pittsburgh for the local club.
“I just really loved it and I hope it continues to grow in popularity and people want to play,” Miller said. “It’s a great way for anyone — no matter what level you play — to play competitive soccer. It’s a good outlet around Pittsburgh.”
As for right now, Miller doesn’t know if she’ll elect to enter the NWSL College Draft or go overseas and pursue a soccer career after graduation. She has two years left of school at Fordham and is making the most of her time — on and off the pitch.
“I’m kind of excited to move on to a new chapter in my life, but I wouldn’t rule it out if a good opportunity came up,” Miller said. “We’ll see about going professional. Right now, I’m just really trying to enjoy myself playing. I only have two seasons left playing competitive college soccer.”
“Hopefully, our team can win a championship, but if not I just want to enjoy my last few seasons here.”
Miller’s return to Pittsburgh will come on Oct. 21, when Fordham takes on Duquesne University.