By Jess Schwager
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Nebraska defender Carly Peetz describes herself as a natural aggressor on the soccer field.
"I would say I'm a physical player," Peetz said. "I naturally don't shy away from tackles or headers. It's kind of just how I've been playing since I was younger. I'm pretty aggressive I would say."
Peetz has been an aggressor since birth and growing up with three sisters has certainly brought out her competitive side.
Peetz was raised in Lincoln, Neb., with her three sisters, twins Ally and Katy, and twin sister, Anne. The Peetz sisters played soccer constantly. They were their own little soccer team. After grade school and playground soccer, Carly and Anne helped Pius X to state titles in 2004 and 2005, and runner-up titles in 2003 and 2006.
But while the other three Peetz sisters saw blue and flew of to Creighton University in Omaha, Carly saw Nebraska Cornhusker scarlet in her future.
Peetz began attending Nebraska soccer camps as a little girl and, from then on, had always known Nebraska was the place for her.
"My sisters knew it, too," Peetz said. "My heart was always set on Nebraska. That's just the type of player I am, I'm pretty aggressive and intense I would say, probably the most intense out of all of my sisters. I think that they all knew it and I did too that this was the best fit for me, so they were really happy for me."
And, luckily, Peetz was the right fit for Nebraska.
Her competitive nature landed her a spot in every game for Nebraska during her freshman season, both on offense and on defense. She earned her first career goal against Big 12 foe Iowa State, before making two crucial assists against Baylor and Loyola-Chicago. She had two game-winning goals as a sophomore and as a junior she had a career-high six points on two goals and two assists.
Midway through her senior season, Peetz has started in all 73 games of her career, but hasn't stopped developing and learning from the game of soccer along the way.
"I've completely grown into a different player at the center back position as far as organization goes on the field," Peetz said. "As far as organizing the team and keeping organized defensively and on the back line, I would say that I understand the game and formations a lot better than my first year here. "
Peetz attributes her defensive skills and confidence to the Nebraska coaching staff and to fellow senior defender Anna Caniglia, who has also started all 73 games in her career.
"The Nebraska coaching staff is incredibly smart and they work a ton with us in the back line," Peetz said. "I've learned how to play offensively out of the defense. I didn't really understand that until now, but I've learned how to start attacks from the back line. I understand that so much more now and I'm so much more confident individually and with my teammates and with Anna. I have so much confidence in her next to me every single game. It's an honor to play with her."
Peetz and Caniglia have been involved in three shutouts this season, including a 2-0 win over defending Big 12 regular-season champion Oklahoma State. Both strong forces on the Nebraska defense, the duo has combined to provide complimenting leadership roles.
"We're both different players," Peetz said. "I'm more vocal and I think together we work really well. Our leadership skills together are really great and really strong and they compliment each other. I mean, together in the back line, I'm so confident with her there - knowing I can play her the ball, knowing it will end in an attack, knowing it won't come right back at me. Our leadership skills definitely compliment each other."
Though Peetz has found success and a second family at Nebraska, she continues to look back at the camaraderie and competiveness her sisters provided while growing up.
"Growing up with three sisters was awesome," Peetz said. "I just loved it. I missed them so much when I came to college, but then I had my team here, so that was great, too. My sisters are all just incredibly independent and they're all doing big things now, so I really look up to all of them as role models. I owe all my success to them. They're my coaches, my role models, my best friends and my teammates."