Sydney Tomlinson, senior goalkeeper and co-captain of the Occidental women’s soccer team, led the team to its first-ever SCIAC championship. The team worked hard in practices and games to get to that point, according to Tomlinson.
Tomlinson said she has been playing soccer since she was 5 years old. Her twin brother, Paul Tomlinson (senior), the captain of the Detox, the men’s Ultimate team, said he is close to his sister and has watched her soccer career rise.
“We like to joke that she’s always been [and that] she got the athletic talent in the family,” Paul Tomlinson said.
She was able to take her team to the postseason during her senior year of high school, according to Paul Tomlinson.
“The only reason why they made it to postseason, in my opinion, is because Sydney had a couple of amazing games where she stopped like 15 shots,” Paul Tomlinson said. “So, you know she’s just had to be that iron wall to create those postseason opportunities.”
According to Sydney Tomlinson, she was named MVP by her coaches during her junior and senior years of high school. After looking at small Division III schools in California, she loved the campus, the people and the academics at Occidental, so she emailed the coaches and moved here from Seattle.
She was named “First Team All SCIAC” and “SCIAC Soccer Tournament MVP,” which according to Tomlinson, means that she is one of the best people in her position in the league. Paul Tomlinson believes his sister’s drive has led her to her success.
“I think it’s a self-motivation and drive to be the best she can be,” Paul Tomlinson said.
Sydney Tomlinson’s teammate and co-captain, Nicole Castro (senior), is a center midfielder and played for Tomlinson’s rival in Seattle, Henry M. Jackson High School.
“She’s really intense. She takes it really seriously, but she’s the perfect example of, I guess you could say, ‘leading by example,’” Castro said.
According to Castro, Tomlinson is a consistent, competitive and hardworking person.
“Her attitude is, ‘I’m going to do what I can to be the best that I can be.’ She’s also really competitive, and I think that ups the level of our practice, and everyone sees it,” Castro said.
Paul Tomlinson has also noticed her competitive and driven attitude.
“She’s always been just consistent. She’s in the goal; she doesn’t let them score on her,” Paul Tomlinson said.
Colm McFeely, who started coaching Occidental women’s soccer as a part time coach in 1992 and became the head coach in 2002, acknowledged Sydney Tomlinson’s drive and hard work as well.
“There is no harder worker in training than Syd, in training, in games and in the weight room,” McFeely said via email. “She leads by example, pushing through grueling keeper drills. She relishes the work and that has been rewarded with SCIAC first team selection this year, long overdue. She had the confidence of her teammates and no wonder, playing a major role in a team that posted a remarkable 12 shutouts this season.”
Sydney Tomlinson said she built her skills through staying competitive and having to be the best to be able to earn a starting spot in the earlier years of her Occidental soccer career, when she had to compete with the other goalies.
“I think just knowing I have a great backline, a great team behind me and so knowing that they have confidence in me also makes me have confidence in myself,” Tomlinson said. “And I think that’s kind of been the turning point for me in being able to make saves and help my team in any way I can, honestly.”
Tomlinson credits the team’s success to a chemistry that was not there before, which allowed them to fight hard in the championship game against Pomona-Pitzer.
“It feels so good,” Tomlinson said. “It is honestly the best feeling in the world. This team has worked so hard for it. It’s been a battle all season long, and we have just put in the work and we have shown grit, shown strength, shown talent, and we just find a way to win. And I am so, so proud of them.”
McFeely recognizes the confidence the team has put into each other, and especially in Tomlinson.
“She [Sydney] has grown into this important role and has the full backing of her teammates, who have learned to trust and respect her enormously,” McFeely said via email. “As a coaching staff I think we have become spoiled by having Syd for four years. We know it will take a bit of time to sink in that this tremendous young woman and excellent soccer player had played her last game for her Tigers. It’s so fitting that Syd helped lead us to our first SCIAC Tournament Championship success and into the NCAA Tournament for first in Oxy women’s soccer history.”
After graduating from Occidental, Tomlinson plans on taking a gap year before going to medical school, but would like to keep soccer a part of her life.
“I would like, I think, to coach and maybe give back to the very great coaches I have had,” Tomlinson said. “So, if I can positively impact people that way too, whether it’s, you know, just volunteering for some club or whatever, I would like to find a way to keep soccer a part of my life.”
According to Tomlinson, she would not have been able to get the awards she has without the help of her team.
“You can’t get anything if you don’t have a really good team, so I would not have been able to get first in all SCIAC or MVP, and they are the sole reason why,” Tomlinson said.
Tomlinson’s season concluded when the women’s soccer team fell 0–1 to Trinity College in the First Round of the NCAA Division III Tournament at the Hardin Simmons University Soccer Complex in Abilene, Texas Saturday, Nov. 10. The Tigers conceded in the 52nd minute to the 13th-ranked team in the country, ending their most successful season in program history.