Soccer player Sophia Prudholme has kicked her soccer ball against a wall near the garage of her family’s Malibu home countless times over the past year.
The short slab of concrete is a training partner for the 18-year-old, who played four years of high school soccer at Oaks Christian School in Westlake Village. It’s always around for times when she isn’t practicing with teammates or sharpening her striking skills with a trainer.
“I do stuff on my own, especially if I have an off day,” Prudholme said. “It doesn’t have to be a lot. I’m just getting touches on the ball because that helps a lot.”
The forward and midfielder’s time spent kicking the ball against the wall, practice time and standout play have netted her a big goal. In late June, Prudholme joined the University of Notre Dame women’s soccer team’s incoming class.
She fell in love with the Indiana-based school when she went there for a soccer camp in 2019 and decided to commit to university’s soccer team after the visited the campus again in April.
“I knew that was my dream school,” Prudholme said. “The campus was amazing. I knew that is where I wanted to be. They also have a great soccer program.”
Notre Dame women’s soccer coach Nate Norman said in a June 29 statement that the Fighting Irish were excited for Sophia to join the team and they believe she will continue to get better as a soccer player and have a fantastic college career.
“She will give us another dynamic attacking player who will only add to our attack,” he said. “She is a very skilled 1-v-1 attacking player who consistently creates plenty of goal scoring opportunities. She is also a fantastic person who will be a great fit for who we are as a program.”
Prudholme’s commitment to Notre Dame came on the heels of her dominant senior campaign in which she collected numerous accolades. Prudholme led Oaks Christian School to a 10-2-2 overall record and a 9-0-1 record—a first-place finish—in the Marmonte League. Along the way, Prudholme’s right foot tallied 10 goals. Prudholme scored three goals each in victories over Calabasas and considers her team’s 7-0 victory over Calabasas on April 23 her best game of the season because all of her goals were in the first half.
The honors really rolled in for her as Oaks Christian’s COVID-19 delayed season ended in early May. Prudholme won the Marmonte League MVP and was named the Ventura County Star Girls Soccer Player of the Year and the newspaper’s all-county first team. She was also named to the Los Angeles Daily News’ All-Area team and won her team MVP and won her school’s scholar-athlete award for having the highest GPA on her team.
Oaks Christians’ soccer season was delayed from the winter to the spring because of the coronavirus pandemic, so Prudholme cherishes the fact she and her teammates were able to have a 2021 season at all because it could have been canceled.
“This year, I was so thankful we were able to have a season, and I wanted make sure that I did everything I could,” she said. “I’m just so thankful for the experience, but also I’m proud of myself for the work I put in behind the scenes to be able to have the type of season I did this year.”
Out of all the accolades, the teenager said the league MVP is the most treasured.
“Heading into the season it was my goal to win MVP,” Prudholme said. “That’s what make it really special—I had that goal. I knew the work I had been putting in. I trained so long, and I trained really hard to get better. I improved a lot. That gave me the confidence to know I could win MVP.”
Prudholme was named to the Marmonte League’s first team at the end of her sophomore year and was gearing up for a standout 11th-grade season when she tore a tendon in her hip near the close of her season with a club soccer team, Eagles SC, in November 2019. The injury may have occurred because Prudholme, a prolific goal scorer with a high “soccer IQ”—meaning she’s a smart player—was practicing netting scores too much. In response, she changed her shooting form, but she was forced to miss her junior high school season because of the torn tendon and the pain it caused.
Prudholme said sitting out Oaks Christian’s campaign that winter was tough.
“It was really hard to watch games and not be able to contribute,” she said. “I’m used to playing soccer year-round, so having to take that long of a break was difficult physically and mentally. It made me appreciate the game a lot more.”
By the time Prudholme’s hip felt well enough for her to begin training again, the sports world and overall world had been put on pause because of the pandemic. So, that March and most of the spring she went outside her home and peppered her concreate training partner with kicks. When COVID-19 restrictions began to lessen and social distancing guidelines in soccer were put in place, Prudholme threw herself into practicing her craft.
“I trained pretty much every day because I had the time and I wanted to be prepared to have a season,” she said. “I was motivated from my injury the year before. I really wanted to be the best on my team and in the league. It was important that I made up for that time that I lost because I wanted to be out there so bad, but I couldn’t. I wanted to make sure I gave it everything.”
Sophia’s dad, Steve Prudholme, coached Sophia when she was a baseball player in the Malibu Little League. The senior Prudholme said their family is proud of Sophia for the way bounced back from her injury and not being able to play soccer during the height of the pandemic.
“First and foremost, Sophia is a good person with a big heart,” Steve said. “She met the challenge head on with hard work, dedication and sacrifice. Sophia worked her tail off to get better, stronger and faster. It didn’t happen by accident—she put the work in day to day, week to week and month to month.”
Steve said Sophia has always enjoyed practicing soccer but noticed that as she got older she understood how training with her strength coach and physical therapist allowed her to work more with her soccer trainer.
“Then the results and confidence clicked in,” he said. “Once she understood that your preparation is what makes it where you can just go play and not think things changed for her.”
The younger Prudholme said it felt good to return to the sport during her club team’s season in November and then play with her high school team March to May.
“I was so happy to be out there again with my teammates,” Sophia said. “We were all thankful to have a season because we didn’t think we were going to have one.”
Prudholme heads to Notre Dame on July 20. She intends to major in business management and is looking forward to the college experience on and off the field.
“My goal is to get as much playing time as I can and contribute to the team in any way I can,” she said. “I want to have fun with soccer, do well in school, meet new people and improve my game.”