Worlds Collide

March 25, 2014

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By Jenna Marina

ORLANDO, Fla. ( - When Lena Petermann accepted an offer to join the German U-20 National Team in Spain for a tournament in March, she viewed the opportunity as a chance to return to her roots. She didn't realize she'd become an ambassador for college sports in America.

As the only NCAA student-athlete on the team, Petermann fielded heaps of questions from her German teammates about life overseas.

"I told them that it's not quite the same level (of play) as Germany, but you can combine your school and soccer and you get to travel around the U.S. and see different places," the Otterndorf, Germany, native said. "I told them it's really, really nice to be here. It's so different from Germany."

Which is exactly what Petermann was hoping for when she was recruited by UCF.

Petermann was on the rise in 2010 and 2011 as a member of Germany's U-17 National Team, gaining invaluable experience at the UEFA Women's Championships and FIFA U17 Women's World Cup. She said she was set to earn a spot with the U-20 team, but an injury kept her off the roster instead.

She took a year off from the sport for some much needed rest. While she was contemplating what the next step in her young life would be, she played in a game in Germany that a member of the UCF coaching staff happened to attend.

From that point on, Petermann was a Knight.

"I said, `Let's do it,'" Petermann recalled. "I also got offers from German clubs, but I wanted to try something new and see how far I could go."

The 2013 season -- her first season with UCF -- was nothing short of stellar. She emerged as the American Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year. She was named to the American All-Conference First Team, All-Rookie Team and All-Tournament Team while helping the Knights clinch the league's regular season and tournament championship titles. She was also part of a school-record 18-match unbeaten streak.

Yet, she felt like she had unfinished business in Germany. She yearned for a chance to reunite with the national team.

So when Petermann was invited to join the U-20 team in La Manga, Spain, for the Six Nations Tournament in early March, she eagerly accepted.

In her first game back with her home country in two years, she scored two goals in Germany's win over Norway, including the game-winner. Not a bad way to make an impression with the team's coach, Olympic bronze medalist Maren Meinert.

"I was kind of nervous because I have not played for that coach. I tried my best and it worked out," Petermann said. "She told me that she can see that I can help the team. I'm a different player than the other forwards. On the physical side, I am better. Playing in the States, it's a more physical than tactical game, and I think that helped me."

Before she left La Manga to return to Orlando, Meinert told Petermann she expects to see her again in June to train with the team for a shot at the U-20 World Cup roster.

Now, her sights are set on punching her ticket to Canada, host of this year's tournament. She would become the third Knight on the current roster to suit up for Germany in a U-20 World Cup, following in the footsteps of rising junior Sophie Howard and rising sophomore Karoline Heinze, who earned silver in 2012.

"If I play in the U-20 World Cup, I think I'm going to be pretty confident when I come back," Petermann said. "Maybe I'll try to be more of a leader. It's so much fun to play with these girls (referring to UCF). We get along with each other pretty well. And it just works on the field."



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