When the final whistle blew on Vivien Beil’s sophomore season at Maine, she knew it would be the last time she stepped on the field in a Black Bear uniform.
Despite winning America East Freshman of the Year in 2015 and arguably being the conference’s best player, Beil felt she maxed out her potential at Maine. She wanted to play somewhere else where she could continue to improve.
“I was looking to transfer to a more competitive conference and a better team,” Beil said. “I wanted to better myself and have more challenges in practice as well as in the game.”
One of the schools she began to look at was UConn. The Huskies fit the bill — They were coming off the American Conference regular season and tournament championships and were coached by Len Tsantiris, one of the most well-respected coaches in the game.
As good as UConn looked on paper, Beil needed to see it for herself. She came for her official visit and was hosted by Kim Urbanek — a fellow German.
“When I came for my official visit, I was with Kim the whole time and we just got along very well,” Beil said. “She wasn’t the main factor why I came to UConn but she definitely was a positive factor.”
Once Beil officially committed, the two quickly became close friends. That bond has translated over to the soccer field as well. Against Colorado College, Beil scored off an assist from Urbanek.
While both players are certainly talented, Beil revealed after the game that they had an advantage over the other 20 players on the field.
“We speak German on the field so it’s nice to connect with someone from home,” Beil said.
It was never something they planned or discussed. It just happened naturally.
“A lot of times it’s not really intentional, it’s just our native language so it’s more natural than speaking in English,” Urbanek said. “Sometimes it’s also easier to communicate the right way.”
“It’s just cool to be able to say something without the other [players] knowing what we’re saying,” Beil added.
However, a different language isn’t the only thing that separates the duo. Growing up in Germany, Beil and Urbanek learned how to play the game differently than their American teammates.
“I feel like in Germany the way you learn how to play soccer is so different than here,” Urbanek said. “We grow up doing a lot of technical work and a lot of tactical work and here is a lot about athleticism.”
It’s not just about the way kids are taught to play growing up, though. In places such as Europe, soccer is often the country's biggest sport, which allows players to be more immersed in it.
“The international players see the game everyday like American kids see basketball, baseball, football, etc. They understand the game,” head coach Len Tsantiris said. “Somebody like Vivien and Kess [Elmore] understand how to hold the ball, how to play the ball and when to play it.”
The coach feels that the style of play from the international players complements the Americans’ skillsets quite well.
“American kids are spontaneous. Like Reagan [Schiappa], she goes for everything and creates problems,” he said. “We connect it like that. It helps the other players.”
The Huskies will need that chemistry on their road trip this weekend to Florida, where they take on the two teams atop the American Athletic Conference standings: USF and UCF. They face off against the Knights on Thursday at 7 p.m. and the Bulls on Sunday at 1 p.m.