Freshman Lauren Elwer has taken little time making her name known as one of the most productive players on this year’s Gonzaga women’s soccer team. She leads the team in shots on goal and game winning shots and is tied for total goals.
“Lauren is a special talent,” head coach Chris Watkins said. “She knows her goals … that girl knows how to find a net.”
Elwer has scored a goal in half of the games she’s played and secured two of the team's six wins.
In GU’s third game of the season against Colorado State University, Elwer was quick to score, capitalizing off a shot in the third minute. However, when CSU tied the game with eight minutes remaining, a score was necessary to avoid overtime.
In the final minute, Elwer drove the ball downfield and crossed the ball through the Rams’ box. That cross ultimately deflected off a CSU defender, creating an own goal with just six seconds left in regulation and securing the win.
“She’s a funny player,” Watkins said. “She just does different things. I’m not sure [if] she even knows what she’s going to do next. That keeps everyone guessing … she can find new space or expose someone in a creative way … she’s just fun to watch.”
While she would not get credit for this goal in the box score, Elwer’s impact on the outcome was felt by the team.
“I don’t think she even knows how good she is,” redshirt junior Isabel Jones said. “She just steps on the field and competes.”
Jones said that Elwer’s off-field personality is a reflection of her skills on the pitch.
“We just love having her on the team,” Jones said. “Whether she’s scoring goals, cracking jokes, or tripping over someone’s foot … she’s been an awesome addition.”
Elwer spends a lot of her time honing her soccer skills.
“She’s a hard worker, she’s working on shooting with her left foot and striking cleaner shots,” Watkins said. “She’s willing. I work with her every day in practice and once a week on her own … she wants to score and she wants to win.”
And she is no stranger to winning. Elwer’s junior year of high school, she helped lead Bishop Kelly in Boise, Idaho, to a No. 15 national ranking at the tail end of a 64-game win streak.
The year prior, she was a Gatorade Player of the Year finalist and named 4A Player of the Year. Throughout her four years in high school, Elwer was first-team all-conference and first-team all-state three times respectively.
Elwer also ran track all four years of high school. Her senior year, she competed in the Idaho 4A/5A State Championship for the 400-meter race and 300-meter hurdles, taking third in the 400-meter with a time of 58.53 seconds and took second in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 44.26 seconds.
Elwer graduated high school with a 4.14 GPA and as part of the National Honors Society. She enrolled at GU early last summer through the Gonzaga University Summer Term program. This allowed her to take classes during the summer as well as participate in preseason soccer practices.
“It was definitely helpful for when the season started,” Elwer said. “When the coaches came, we already knew each other and had gotten so close as a team.”
Elwer grew up never playing alone. She is a triplet, and her two sisters Evelyn and Grace almost always played alongside her. She said she and her sisters would often play games in the backyard together.
“We just stuck with it together. It was something that we just always did,” Elwer said. “All throughout our life we were teammates … we definitely were able to push ourselves, as we are all so competitive.”
This is the first year Elwer has been on a soccer team without her sisters.
“It was exciting to be apart,” Elwer said. “I think my sisters are all going to do great things on their own.”
Evelyn is playing soccer at Point Loma Nazarene University. Grace is studying at University of Arizona with their oldest sister Olivia.
Elwer’s father coached her and her sisters for many years, but took a step back when they got older.
“It was great having him as a coach for us,” Elwer said. “However, once we got to middle school, we were like ‘stop coaching us!’ as we knew it was going to be more intense and didn’t want it to ruin our relationship.”
It hasn't taken long for Elwer to get situated in Spokane. She said that when she went home after her summer classes, she felt homesick for GU.
“This is the only school where I didn’t have any doubts,” Elwer said. “Other schools I had a pros and cons list for, but for Gonzaga there were just no cons.”