Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


From Finland to Florida, Just for Kicks

“Overrated” might have been a chant heard in the stands during the FAU and University of South Florida football game, but that is far from the truth when talking about FAU women’s soccer player Susanna Lehtinen.

A senior, Lehtinen, or Suski as her friend’s call her, is FAU’s all-time leading scorer. Suski has 25 goals and 36 assists in her college career, including eight goals and seven assists through 15 games this season. At 5 feet 4 inches tall, her stature might not appear intimidating, but her game is.

“When Suski is on the field, every player out there gets a feeling like, ‘Oh my god, we’re in trouble.’ Her speed and skill is out of this world,” former teammate Meredith White says.

Well, maybe out of this country. Lehtinen comes to FAU from Espoo, Finland, where she started playing soccer at the age of eight. She later played for FC Espoo of the women’s Finnish Premiere League, from 2000 to 2004.

Lehtinen is still a member of the Finnish National team, which played the United States before a worldwide TV audience in September. Lehtinen defended against U.S. star Kristine Lilly.

Finland was not able to participate in the World Cup because of a loss to Denmark in the preliminary round.

“Last year we beat Denmark in the World Cup qualifiers, and when we met them again to play, all we had to pull off was a tie or a win, and we ended up losing by a goal which kicked us out of qualifying,” Lehtinen says.

So what brings Lehtinen all the way to Boca Raton? “The location, location, location, and, of course, the team,” Lehtinen says. Her high school coach helped her contact FAU’s head soccer coach, Brian Dooley. She’s happy she did. Lehtinen says Dooley is somebody she can trust, relate to and help her grow in her soccer career.

She also relates to her FAU teammates. “All of us girls have a connection, and that is important when you are playing as a team. We all get along, and that is impressive when you have 22 girls in one area,” Lehtinen says.

In 2005, the FAU team won a conference championship and Lehtinen won the player of the year award.

“Two words to describe Suski would be skill and speed. She deserves any award she gets, as she is one of the biggest overachievers I know,” teammate Sonia Richards says.

Lehtinen says she wants to play like her favorite player, Manchester United’s midfielder Ryan Giggs. She works at it by sprinting down the field at the hottest point of the afternoon in her Adidas cleats when no one else around.

Lehtinen is an overachiever in the classroom as well as on the soccer field. She maintains grade point average higher than a 3.0 while juggling a schedule of school, a national team and a college team.

“Susanna understands that she is not only an athlete, but a student-athlete. She knows how to manage her time with everything that she has out on the table and does it fabulously,” Athletic Coordinator Keva Anderson says.

Majoring in international business, playing for a Division I college team and the Finland National team, does Lehtinen ever get time for herself?

“Of course. When I am not scheduled to do anything, I love hanging with my friends, eating ice cream and- hello it’s Florida – going to the beach.” She says her favorite place to eat is Chili’s, where she chows down on the buffalo chicken salad.

Lehtinen hopes to play professional soccer after college like fellow FAU alumna and Finnish National teammate Katri Nokso Koivisto. For now, Lehtinen says she is concentrating on bringing home another conference championship in her final year at FAU.

“We will be conference champions, so don’t miss the chance to watch us prove it,” Lehtinen says. “We are lean, mean fighting machines- or should I say owls?”

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