The phone call comes about once a year, and Salma Tarik always expects it. On the other end of the line is someone asking her to lend a foot to the Egyptian women’s national soccer team.
Tarik is not only the women’s soccer coach at St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue, but she is an accomplished international athlete.
The Hicksville resident turned 27 on Nov. 22 and celebrated by scoring the only goal in Egypt’s milestone victory over Zimbabwe in the African Cup of Nations tournament in Cameroon.
“I’ve scored a lot of goals, but this one will be with me forever,” said Tarik, a midfielder. “We made history with our first-ever win. I was happy I was the one who scored, but I just wanted to win. But scoring on top of it was the icing on the cake.”
Born in Cairo, Tarik spent part of her childhood in East Meadow and played three seasons for Hofstra after transferring from Cal State Northridge. As a senior, she led the 2009 Pride with 10 goals and 24 points. She ranks fourth on Hofstra’s all-time list with 28 goals.
Tarik took over the St. Joseph’s women’s soccer program in April after serving three seasons as assistant men’s coach at Mercy College. Her first Golden Eagles team went 5-13-1 and lost in the first round of the Skyline Conference playoffs
“Since I coach fulltime, it’s really hard for me to take off two or three weeks to go play [in international events],” said Tarik, who has played for Egypt’s national team since age 17. “If it’s something important, like a qualifier for a tournament or the World Cup, that’s when I go. They play a lot of friendlies throughout the year, but I can’t just get on a plane and play in a friendly. So, it has to have some kind of significance for me to be able to go and take that time off.”
The call came again this year and Tarik’s schedule as a college and youth coach — she’s been with the East Meadow Soccer Club for six years — allowed her to play in the African tournament.
Egypt, which hadn’t qualified for the cup in 18 years, was eliminated in group play, but Tarik will remember the goal against Cameroon forever.
“It was a low cross to the back post, I beat my defender and stuck my foot out as I was sliding in,” Tarik said. “The goalie was coming toward me, so I redirected it and it slowly went in.
“It was probably the best goal I’ve ever scored because it just meant so much.”
The win was Egypt’s first in the African Cup of Nations in two trips. It qualified in 1998, but was eliminated after failing to win a game. Nigeria beat Cameroon, 1-0, Saturday in the 2016 championship game.
Tarik got the full sense of international play right away in the Nov. 19 opener against host Cameroon.
“It was 40,000 fans and a ton of people in the streets trying to watch and listen,” she said. “I couldn’t really hear anything on the field. It was so loud. It was like the entire country was there watching.” Cameroon won that match, 2-0.
With an experience like that under her belt, Tarik is happy the phone rang, and even happier she answered.