NORTH ADAMS -- She's a first-year varsity player. She's a freshman. And she's from Vermont. All that would usually indicate this Blue Devil is a stranger to Drury soccer, but nothing could be further from the truth.
That's because the girl wearing No. 2 for the Drury girls' soccer team is a Tietgens. She's the younger sister of Jess Tietgens, who scored 199 points in her career, and Jake Tietgens, who led the county in scoring as a senior last year.
To say the stage is set is likely an understatement.
"I like being the last one because I got to watch them and how they played," Jill said. "I think that made me better."
The Stamford, Vt. native made quite the jump in the last year, skipping over the junior varsity level and immediately landing a spot on the varsity roster. A spot coach Molly Meczywor said she earned, and was not given because of who came before her.
"She was very physical," Meczywor said. "That's a major difference between JVs and varsity, just the physicality . She was not afraid to push people around, including Danielle [Racette] or Amanda [Ramsdell] or any of the seniors. So we knew she kind of had that killer instinct right off the get-go."
Perhaps the relentless attitude was an attempt to hide her nervousness or perhaps it's just what makes a Tietgens a top-notch scorer.
It didn't take Meczywor long to see the similarities between Jill and her older sister.
"I had actually
Jess had a similar experience. A friend of hers tagged her in a Facebook photo, only it wasn't her, it was Jill. But it even took Jess a few seconds to notice because the two look so similar.
Wearing the same number your older sister wore and the number that filled the scorebook for four years can be a daunting task. Jill knows it and knows comparisons to Jess and Jake are inevitable. She just hopes she's compared in the right ways.
"In the good things I do, I guess," she said. "Be compared to them in the good ways."
Jill's high school career is getting off to the same start as Jess' did nine years ago. They both had to fight for a spot on the varsity as a freshman. In Jess' next three years, Drury was the team to beat, including an undefeated season in the North Division in 2004. While Jill's next three years are to come, Drury fans can only hope she helps bring the Blue Devils back into the North in a position of power.
She may well be on her way to doing just that. It appears the extra work she's put in with her sister in the offseason is paying off. She's already ahead of where her Jess was in at least one respect.
"She can kick it harder than I could when I was her age," Jess said. "That definitely is pretty cool for her. My freshman year, that was probably my biggest weakness in high school was that I had no power behind my kick.
"It's a process that you need to practice, practice, practice so that you can do it at game speed. You can't be thinking about it when you're running down the field at full speed. That's something that I've worked on with her a lot because for a striker it's crucial to have power behind your kick. She has a lot more power than I did, so that's definitely one of her strengths."
Jill has embraced being the youngest and last Tietgens to come through the soccer program. She has expressed her desire to work with Jess more in the offseason, which will only hone her skills. But some talents can't be taught. Both Jill and Jess have a crucial one for a striker.
"They both have that, it's like a killer instinct for the ball," Meczywor said. "And at tryouts, it was very evident you know that Jill had it as well. It's really pretty to watch that first step that they both had to get the ball."