No matter the time or place, Ayana Sumiyasu doesn't often take a break from playing soccer.
It's customary procedure for Sumiyasu to strap on the gloves and protect the net while playing goalkeeper for the Yale University women's soccer program. She's prepared to make a beeline across the crease and make routine and acrobatic saves to keep the Bulldogs in a match much like she previously did when she patrolled the position at Flintridge Prep.
Whether its competing for Yale or her summer club team in Pasadena, Sumiyasu will look to continue doing the job to the best of her ability. With her senior season at Yale on the cusp of beginning, Sumiyasu is putting the finishing touches on her offseason conditioning workouts and receiving extra playing time in goal for the L.A. Futbol Club Chelsea squad — featuring current and former collegiate players — in the San Gabriel Valley.
"It's going to be my last season and I have trained as much as I could during the summer to prepare for it," said Sumiyasu, who went 7-5 last season to help the Bulldogs finish second in the Ivy League behind Harvard. "I'm hoping to be able to go out on top and provide some senior leadership.
"I didn't stop playing soccer. I spent the summer focusing on foot work and communication."
Sumiyasu brought the same work ethic that she developed at Flintridge Prep to Yale, which finished 10-6 and 5-2 in league last season under the direction of Coach Rudy Meredith. In three seasons with Yale, Sumiyasu is 16-15-2 with nine shutouts and a 1.23 goals-against average. Last season, Sumiyasu, a former All-Area member, registered five shutouts in 14 appearances. She finished second in league in goals-against average (1.02) and save percentage (.824) and recorded the third most saves (61).
Sumiyasu turned aside a career-high 15 saves in a 1-0 nonconference road overtime loss against Connecticut and earned Ivy League Player of the Week honors last season.
"She was unbelievable in that game," Yale assistant Fritz Rodriguez said. "It's one of the best games I've seen her play.
"My hope is that she will be the starting goalie for us again. With Ayana, she doesn't make many mistakes. We are going to need her leadership on and off the field. We are going to have a young back line and we are going to look for her to keep it organized and she can communicate effectively."
There's still work to be done by Sumiyasu at Yale, where one must learn to juggle an expansive academic schedule and athletics.
"I've enjoyed Yale and I don't regret going there," said Sumiyasu, who has participated in 33 matches at Yale. "I thought I played well last season, but you always think you can play better.
"We challenged [for the league title] and it's a going to be a tough league once again. We graduated three starting defenders, so we are building up our defense again with some new people. We do have a lot of seniors up front at forward and in the midfield."
Sumiyasu, a political science major and one of four Bulldogs to earn ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District I recognition last season, made a name for herself at Flintridge Prep before graduating in 2007. Her junior season with the Rebels proved to be her best as she secured All-Area first-team accolades, to go along with being named the Prep League's co-Most Valuable Player and earning All-CIF recognition after leading Flintridge Prep into the postseason. While looking to duplicate or perhaps exceed what she accomplished, Sumiyasu missed most of the following season because of a left-knee injury.
Things appear to be going well now for Sumiyasu. The Bulldogs will kick of their season Sept. 3 with a nonconference home match against Penn State. League play will start Oct. 2 at Harvard. The Bulldogs will play four of their first five games against teams that reached the NCAA College Cup last season.
"I've been able to get back to working on my vertical play and jumping," Sumiyasu said. "That's always going to be a huge part of my game.