Being only 17 years old in a new country can be nerve-racking to some. But for Linn Beck, no emotions or feelings stand between her and success on the pitch. The freshman midfielder has been a revelation for the Stony Brook women’s soccer team. Beck is currently second on the team in goals and points, tallying five goals and 12 points through the first 13 games.
Beck’s story in soccer began back in Frankfurt, Germany, where she started playing at the age of five. She also participated in swimming and tennis, but quit both in her early teenage years in order to focus on soccer.
“I had to decide to focus on one sport, and I just really enjoy being on a team,” Beck said in an interview with The Statesman. “I’ve just always had fun playing soccer.”
Beck attended Heinrich von Gagern Gymnasium for high school. She played club soccer on the Eintracht Frankfurt youth team for her first three years of high school. Beck’s schedule was loaded, as the club was not associated with her school. She found herself constantly traveling as she bounced between school and soccer.
“I know people here compete for their high school teams, but in Germany, it’s completely separate,” Beck said. “We had practices everyday, and we were traveling all over Germany.”
The juggling of school and daily practices as well as traveling around Germany was a struggle for Beck, but her love for the game of soccer was too strong to give it up.
“It was hard to combine playing soccer and being at school,” Beck said. “I always managed to do it. I never felt like I had too much stress or that I wanted to quit playing soccer.”
In her senior year of high school, Beck ascended through the ranks and received the opportunity to play for the professional club of Eintracht Frankfurt. She had been a fan of the well-established club ever since she was younger, and she got to play with players she previously rooted for at only 17 years old.
“It was amazing,” Beck said. “I looked up to the players on the team. And even when I got there, there was still a few players that I used to cheer for watching their games. It was just really fun.”
Being a teenager and competing against adults was challenging for Beck at first, as she went scoreless in her first 14 appearances with the club.
“The level of play is very high,” Beck said. “It was challenging for me, especially in the first month there.”
Beck did not get much playing time at all in the first half of the season. It was difficult for her to adapt to playing on a team where she was not the only player with overflowing talent. The difference between playing for a youth team and playing with the professional roster was greater than she expected; Beck had to reassure herself that she belonged in the position that she was in.
“That was a challenging time for me because it was such a big change,” Beck said. “I had to convince myself mentally that I didn’t change as a player … You think, ‘Am I good enough to be on that team?’ Why am I on that team if I don’t play at all?’
Rather than give up, Beck put her head down and kept working. Eventually, she found her way on the field as a professional.
“I just kept working and trying not to overthink it, and I got the playing time in the second half of the season,” Beck said.
Once she got her opportunity, Beck hit the ground running. She finished her lone season with the club with six goals, five of which came in her last six games. Her highlight of the year came in a matchup against FC Gütersloh, where she scored a game-winning goal in the 18th minute.
“I learned a lot from playing there,” Beck said. “It made me grow as a player because I could look up to the more established players on the team.”
When it came time to look at colleges, Beck knew that she wanted to continue playing soccer. She weighed her options and she decided that she would rather play overseas in the United States. Beck said that Stony Brook was the only American school that she had serious interest in.
“I just really liked Stony Brook as soon as I saw the university,” Beck said. “It just felt like it was the right decision to make, so that’s why I came.”
Beck’s decision was made easier upon learning that she would be playing with a fellow German in defender Catharina von Drigalski. Von Drigalski grew up only a few towns over from Beck in Oberursel, Germany. She also played for Eintracht Frankfurt prior to Beck. She says that von Drigalski’s presence helped convince her to come to Stony Brook given her background.
“I didn’t know her before, that was just a coincidence,” Beck said. “And then I realized that she played for the same club that I used to play for.”
Coming to Stony Brook was Beck’s first time in the United States. Despite the expected nerves and anxiety that the move brought her, Beck’s coaches and teammates helped make her transition easier.
“To be honest, I was nervous coming here,” Beck said. “As soon as I arrived, everyone was really nice on the team.”
Though Beck had experience playing soccer at a high level in Germany, playing at the NCAA Division I level was a bit of a culture shift for her.
“The system is different,” Beck said. “I feel like it’s more technical in Europe … It’s not better or worse in any way, but it’s just different.”
None of these differences or unfamiliarities were apparent during Stony Brook’s season opener against Fordham. Beck made her presence known as soon as she took the field at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium, scoring the Seawolves’ first goal of the season on a penalty kick to tie the game with just two minutes left. The Seawolves wound up completing the comeback and winning 2-1.
Beck’s most impressive performance of the season took place on Sept. 25 against Hampton. The Seawolves defeated the Pirates 12-0, shattering the program’s record for goals scored in a game. Beck led the way with three goals in just 47 minutes. Her hat trick was the first one by a Seawolf since former forward Alyssa Francese did it against Vermont in 2021. Beck’s performance earned her CAA Rookie of the Week honors on Sept. 26.
“Looking back at it, it’s incredible,” Beck said. “It’s incredible to be a part of that. I was happy to hear that we broke so many records.”
Beck has continued to prove that she belongs at the Division I level. She is one of only two freshmen that have started all 13 games for the Seawolves this season, with the other being fellow midfielder Ashley Manor.
“I just feel pretty good overall and that affects my performance,” Beck said. “I’m just in a good mental state right now and that makes it easier for me to compete.”
Though Beck’s play has been a positive for the Seawolves, the team has hit a major skid after a good start. Despite beginning the season 3-1, the win against Hampton is their only victory in their previous nine matchups. There are many new additions to this Stony Brook team and Beck pointed to the on-field chemistry being one reason for their struggles.
“We realized that we have to stay in the game for the whole 90 minutes,” Beck said. “We still need to get to know each other. The runs, for example: sometimes we make the same runs and we realize we’re taking up the space of the other.”
Beck also acknowledged that there are kinks in her game she still needs to work out and that she is still adjusting to the physical style of play that was not present overseas.
“That is something I still want to improve,” Beck said. “Protecting the ball with my body more, and just being more physical in general. Long balls are implemented more often in the game here. I also am working on improving my speed.”
This is not the first time Beck has faced adversity in her soccer career. She has taken several challenges head on and will have to continue to do so as her Stony Brook career progresses. She figures to be one of the featured players on the roster for the next several years to come. Based on what the 17-year-old midfielder from Germany has already showcased in her freshman year, Seawolves fans have a lot to look forward to.