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Colorado Student-Athlete Spotlight: Nikki Marshall
September 16, 2008

By: Nick Bernal

Big 12 Campus Correspondent


Seemingly from the moment Nikki Marshall stepped on the soccer field at the University of Colorado, she has been an impact player. 


Marshall was a high-profile recruit who set a number of school records during her prep career. She recorded 100 goals and 38 assists in her four years at Skyline High School in Meade, Colo.


She wasted no time living up to the lofty expectations that accompanied her to Boulder. Marshall posted the most prolific offensive season in CU history by posting 17 goals and three assists in 24 games in 2006. 


Entering her junior season, Marshall has continued her offensive onslaught and is just two goals and 18 points shy of the CU career record in both categories with the Big 12 Conference season beckoning in a few weeks.


Marshall is team-oriented, but also feels that the individual records would be meaningful.


“Personally, I’d really like to break the scoring record, but I really want to have more assists this year,” said Marshall, who has 30 career goals. “To me it’s not about shots because I don’t want to be seen as just a goal scorer, but an all-around player."


"Katie Griffin has the (goal-scoring record, 32) and I was able to play with her, as she was a senior when I was a freshman," noted Marshall. " It’s cool to be in a position to break her record because I always looked up to Katie and wanted to be like her."


“That being said, all of my real goals this year are team goals. I know that they can go far in the NCAA Tournament this year, and I think we have a great chance of winning the Big 12 Conference. I think that this team can make it to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tourney this year, we can be the 'Cinderella team' -like USC was last year. I have high hopes for the team and I know my teammates feel the same way.”


If the Buffs make a post-season run, it will be without Marshall. She has been playing with the United States Under-20 National Team the last two summers and will miss the end of the regular season this year as well as the entire post season due to national team obligations.


This past summer Marshall played every minute for the U.S. team as a defender and was a huge part of the team’s success and their ability to earn a berth to the 2008 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup. 


“The whole experience was great,” Marshall said. “From qualifying for the U-20 World Cup to beating Mexico in the semifinals, it was just amazing. Knowing that my team qualified for the World Cup is an amazing feeling, whether I make the final roster or not. Just knowing that I contributed to that accomplishment is great and the whole experience was just awesome.”


Her national team experience was valuable during a “slow” start - two goals and an assist in the season’s first five games.      


“My confidence is a little shot right now because I’m not playing that great, but knowing that I played every minute for the 20’s (US Under-20 National Team) over the summer and contributed is a huge boost,” Marshall said. “That experience is really helping me right now because it reminds me that the ability is there and that I just have to work a little harder to get back to where I want to be."

Moving between forward and defender is challenging but something that Marshall has done in her career; she was a defender during her sophomore season at CU. She had nine goals and two assists and earned First-Team All-Big 12 honors.


“Playing forward is more of a light hearted position, if you will, because there is not as much pressure on you - like there is when you’re playing at defender.” 


Colorado coach Bill Hempen moved Marshall to forward this season because of her end-of-season departure. He believes it will be easier to find a replacement up front than in the backfield.


“I don’t really prefer one (position) over the other,” said Marshall, the owner of 30 school, conference, regional and national awards.  “But, I think everyone likes forward more because it’s the ‘cooler’ position, you get to score goals and you receive more recognition for your play.  But now that I’ve played center back, I have a new found respect for the girls that play back there.  I know how difficult it is, and how much focus and effort you have to play with to play back their successfully.”


Marshall’s versatility and unselfishness also translates in her desire to emphasize passing as much as scoring.


“Honestly, I feel like the assists are the big deal on my goals - especially this season,” Marshall said.  “All my goals this season have been balls that a teammate has sent across the box and all I have to do is tap it in.  I have to credit my team with that stat because they are the ones that are getting me the ball in easy scoring situations.”


Based on her two seasons at Colorado and two summers with the National team, Marshall believes Colorado is poised to have a special season ... even if she won’t be around for the end.


“I think we’re going to have a great season this year,” Marshall said. “I thought that going into the season and we’ve started really well.  Our young players are really playing awesome; they play like they are experienced players.


“You combine that with the fact that we are returning basically all of our starters from last season - all of them except the two seniors that graduated, and that is why I think the team is going to have a great season.”


The Buffs, 5-1-1 overall and 1-0 in Big 12, host the Colorado Soccer Classic this weekend before moving into the heart of their conference schedule on Friday Sept. 26 when they host Oklahoma. 

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