Sept. 28, 2004
Purdue's sophomore defender, Kristin Lichtenberg, was thrust into the leadership role on the team's defensive line when Sharon Pagorick went down this summer. Lichtenberg, who had only seen limited action in five game last season was now expected to be the veteran of a line that other wise was comprised of true freshman. The Wheaton, Illinois native has responded impressively, playing every minute of the seasonthus far and totaling a team high two game-winning goals on just four shots on net. Lichtenberg was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week for her performance in her first two games as a starter, wins over Cincinnati and New Mexico. She was also named the Boilermaker Challenge Cup Defensive MVP for her outstanding play. However, there is much more to Kristin than just a "klutch" performer. The Boilermakers, who are 6-4 on the season,will play host to Wisconsin this Friday.
Coming into this season your game action had been limited to coming off the bench for limited time in five games last year. However, so far this season, you have played every minute of every game. Despite your lack of experience coming into this season, you are the veteran on a defensive line that is otherwise comprised of true freshman. With the injury to Sharon, you have been forced into an even bigger leadership role than you would have thought. What is it like to be considered the veteran in a group of players that made their first career start in the same game you did?
It's definitely a very different role, having freshman look up to me. I have had to adjust to having a lot of leadership responsibilities this year. But to be honest, you wouldn't know that they were true freshman by watching them. They have all stepped up a ton.
There have been some very skilled, very productive defensive players that have played for Purdue in recent years. What have you been able to learn having watched them, and does that add pressure, having had the leadership role thrust upon you?
As a first year player, I looked up to a senior on my first team, Chrissy Creamer. Since then, she has been one of my biggest role models. I always wanted to be like her, both as a defender and a leader. When she was here, we would talk about soccer and things off the field as well, I will never forget that. She had tremendous leadership skills and a great personality as well as being a great soccer player. I always had it in the back of my head `Always try to be like Chrissy in a way'.
Obviously you are a defender that is somewhat offensively minded, having scored two game winning goals already this season. Have you always been a defender?
I have always played defense, usually as a sweeper. In club soccer and even in high school, I never played offense. I never even came up on corner kicks and free kicks. I think I only scored two goals in my entire high school career. It wasn't until I came to Purdue that I began to play on the offensive side of the field.
Are there certain qualities that a defender must possess that players at other positions do not have?
I don't want to say that defenders work harder than midfielders or forwards, but there is a definite battling mentality that all defenders must have. Defenders must always have the mindset that they are going to be working their butts off.
You come from a high school program at Wheaton Warrenville South that has been very productive in turning out Division I soccer players. What is it about the culture of the program there that allows them to regularly send players to the next level?
When I moved to Wheaton in fifth grade, I got involved with the local club team, the Wheaton Wings. We've always had a good club team there. We all stuck together and didn't move to other club teams. Some of my teammates had been playing together since they were 10, that makes a big difference. The biggest thing is that there are amazing coaches both at the club and high school level in Wheaton.
What is it like playing against high school teammates now as a college player?
It's a lot of fun. We played Natalie Lencioni and Iowa two weeks ago. It is funny being on opposing sides of the field. As we went on to field, we were laughing with each other, telling the other that they were going to lose. It's just a fun little rivalry. Next week we play Michigan and I am really looking forward to that. Therese (Heaton) is my best friend; she is the sister I never had. It should be fun, because I will be marking her that game.
On the opposite side, did playing with a former high school teammate in Maureen Carey, help your transition from high school to college?
I was looking at other schools, but having Mo at Purdue really clinched it for me. Her being here has made things a lot easier. Here having already been at Purdue for a year gave me a comfort level that made me feel comfortable enough to get involved in things. We have been living together for the past two years, since we are always at soccer, we basically do everything together.
Since you are from just outside of Chicago, do you think that the Cubs going to be able to hold together long enough to out last the Giants and win the wild-card?
I hope so. I have been watching all of the games with Arin Yarc (Purdue senior midfielder from from Libertyville, Illinois) and rooting them on.
Are you involved with anything on campus or in the community other than the soccer team?
Soccer takes up a large amount of time, but I am involved in the Health and Kinesiology club. It is mainly people in my major. We volunteer together and have career seminars. Jayme-Lee (Biamonte, Purdue midfielder) and I volunteer every Tuesday at the Ishmael center. It is a physical therapy center for older people.
You have three brothers who also have the letter K (Kevin, Keith and Kurt) as their first initial. I can't imagine that was just a coincidence.
My parents thought it would be cute to have all of their kids names start with the same letter, but what is a little weird is that we have three dogs, two of which we adopted from the local shelter. Their names are Koogan, Kojo, and Klifford. My mom loves animals, in fact her license plate is "K Crew 7". When anyone asks her about our name she says she is "Krazy with a K".