On a team full of newcomers and fresh starts, the goalkeeper position stands out as a completely new start for Vandal soccer.
With a new coach working a new position, a German native bringing the experiences from playing the No. 1 sport in Europe and a true freshman hailing from the rigorous training and competition of the Elite Clubs National League, the goalkeeper position at Idaho is undergoing a transformation. A transformation that has proved, so far this season, to be the most stable element of the Vandal soccer team.
Heading the goalkeepers this year, as the position coach, is London native Laura Jackson. Jackson became a goalkeeper coach after playing four years of collegiate soccer at Syracuse and Lona College as a defender. After she exhausted her eligibility for competition, she started helping to train the team’s three keepers.
Jackson received a Level 1 Goalkeeping license in England before coming to Idaho to both coach and work on her master’s degree. Jackson said that she wanted to have more coaching certificates when she knew that she was going to come to Idaho to coach and continue her education.
“Back in England they have the FA (Football Association) certification, I ended up getting that. I would say that it is more intensive,” Jackson said.
Jackson currently holds two coaching degrees — a license for coaches who have not traditionally played the goalkeeping position and an E soccer coaching license.
“She does (bring her own perspective) to the position. Especially in the beginning of the season we had problems with the defense … where we played the man marking thing and I didn’t know how to tell how to pass the player off and she really helped with that,” sophomore goalkeeper Marina Siegl said.
Siegl came to the University of Idaho in 2012 from playing for the Bayern Munich women’s club. Siegl saw no play during the 2012 season, but so far this year is leading the team with time spent in front of the net as well as saves.
Siegl started with the football club playing two seasons for the youth team and in her third year, moved up to the women’s club team. She played one season in Germany’s second-highest league as well as winning the German national championship with the Bavarian All-Star team.
“(Playing in America on the colligate level) is a lot different, I feel like it’s more running. In Europe, it was more keeping the ball moving and we play the long ball more here. It looks faster here,” Siegl said.
Siegl’s experience has started to pay off for the team this season. This season has not been promising for the Vandals, as they are sitting at second-to-last in the WAC standings and are leading the conference in goals allowed. But they are also second in saves with 87 trailing behind Utah Valley by two. Of the 87 saves, Siegl is credited with 50, 20 of them coming in just two games over a weekend.
Sharing time in front of the net is Highlands Ranch, Colo., native freshman Torell Stewart. Stewart has been prepped since eighth grade for the competitive level that collegiate soccer demands.
“I started playing with the Colorado Storm in the eighth grade. The competition was definitely a lot tougher in ACNL,” Stewart said.
For Stewart, the challenges on the field are not the biggest she’s had to make. The increased competition and training that comes with playing for a national team for four years prepared Stewart to compete on the collegiate level. The biggest transition has been the demands of balancing classes while being a collegiate athlete.
“I think that I’ve started to flow with the team … it’s different playing with different people,” Stewart said. “The time commitment is a lot more than high school … it’s a lot more time management.”
For a team as young in the developing stages of its play as the Vandals, it should feel secure with its shot-stoppers. A team that is struggling offensively and has seen 54 percent more shots on its goal than it has taken can feel secure in the goalkeepers and the coach leading them on.
Curtis Ginnetti can be reached at email@example.com