Kontor is cool in the clutch

Kontor’s efforts late in the game revive hope for the team, sending the game into overtime and a Tartan win. (credit: CMU Athletics) Kontor’s efforts late in the game revive hope for the team, sending the game into overtime and a Tartan win. (credit: CMU Athletics)

She may only be halfway through her college career, but sophomore midfielder Morgan Kontor believes she is becoming a quiet leader on her team. She exemplifies how to be a clutch player for her team when the time comes.

The materials science & engineering and biomedical engineering double major from Annapolis, Md. most recently scored an incredible game-tying goal in the waning seconds of a game against Capital on Sunday, Sept. 27. She headed a beautiful pass from her teammate, sophomore midfielder Haili Adams, into the top of the goal, forcing the game into overtime and ultimately securing her team the win. The victory continued their impressive undefeated streak.

Kontor did not get to this moment of success without a lifetime of commitment to the game. She first stepped foot onto the pitch in a neighborhood recreational league at the age of five and never looked back.

She eventually moved on to playing for her high school and the Maryland United FC before making her journey to Carnegie Mellon. Kontor knew she had to step her game up when she came into the collegiate atmosphere. “Everyone is good, the game is always faster and the teams play better together”, Kontor said of the transition to collegiate athletics. However, with her sophomore class constituting a large chunk of the team, she feels that her team is as cohesive as ever and sees even better opportunities for success emerging in the future for her team. When she came to the school, her favorite part of joining the soccer program was the friends she immediately made through her teammates, creating a truly “authentic family” within the team, which is clearly reflected in their outstanding undefeated record this season.
But not every game has been an easy victory, and her game-tying goal against Capital is the epitome of Kontor’s success so far at Carnegie Mellon. Kontor recalls the moment vividly: As the final minute of the game ticked away, she remembers thinking, “There’s no way we’ll make it through this with a win,” her team being down a goal and no immediate solution in sight. The seconds continued to tick away, and Kontor’s teammate Haili Adams miraculously dribbled through four defenders and got a beautiful pass off in Kontor’s direction. The next few seconds became a blur of movement and adrenaline for Kontor. “I just got something on it,” she said, “I can’t recall whether it was my head or my shoulder but I got a touch and I knew it went in.” The team erupted in celebration, but the happiness quickly reverted to business because the game was not over — the goal had only been enough to tie the game for the Tartans.

Kontor saw things differently. “We had to win at that point. That was only way it could happen after that goal,” she said. And she was right. The Tartans managed to score an overtime goal and take the victory to continue their undefeated season on the wings of Kontor’s game-tying goal.

Kontor remains humble about the game, though. “I was just doing what I needed to, being in the right place at the right time” she said, and she knows it was a collective effort of her teammates to make that goal happen. She said her teammates trust each other, and she was impressed “by the amount of resilience my team showed in staying in that game.” But Kontor, along with the rest of the Tartan women, are looking forward. The ultimate goal is to make it far into the NCAA tournament and possibly win, she says, but the team isn’t focused on that right now. Kontor says the first goal is to win the next game, and after that to win the UAA conference.

If they take their goals step by step, she says, the ultimate goal will come easily.

Success for a Carnegie Mellon athlete, however, must come in both academic and athletic forms. When asked about how she balances schoolwork and athletics, Kontor said she resorts to simple time management strategies, and emphasized that she gets enough sleep at all times. She also sees her sport as a stress relief mechanism, allowing her to get her mind off school when perhaps the thought might be too overwhelming. Kontor is still figuring out what she wants to do when she graduates, but says she would like to become a coach of her own soccer team one day. But for now, her team will look to continue running the table, and with great team synergy and trust among everyone, it looks as if the Tartan women are on track for a perfect season.

Kontor knows she’s the clutch player, and wants to be along for that ride.