When the starter’s away, the backup starts to play. In game one of the season, the UVU women’s soccer team took a hit when junior Lauren Sack went down with a shoulder injury just 19 minutes into the game. Freshman Jessica Duffin, first year varsity and backup goalkeeper, took over in the game and left an impression on not only her teammates and coaches but fans as well.
Born in Logan, Utah, Duffin was heavily involved in sports in high school. Before graduating from Sky View High School, Duffin was a member of the state championship track team her junior year. She also prepped as goalkeeper and was named All-Region at that position. She helped her team to the Utah State Quarterfinals during her senior year in both soccer and basketball. She managed to accomplish these athletic feats, graduated with a 3.9 GPA and was a member of the National Honor Society. But that wasn’t a difficult task for her.
“Sports have always been a part of my life,” Duffin said. “My parents were pretty athletic. It just kind of came easy to me. I’ve always had to manage my time.”
That kind of work ethic transferred over to the college level. After graduating, she red-shirted for the Wolverines for a year and watched Sack, then sophomore goalkeeper, had a tremendous season, winning multiple honors including Great West Conference Defensive Player of the Year. Duffin continued to work hard to be able to have that opportunity one day but she never expected it to be this early.
“When coach told me to warm up, I was sad for Sack,” Duffin explained. “I was hoping she would do fine. I felt like I was pretty calm. I just told myself to go out there and play for my team.”
Since taking over for Sack, Duffin has 20 saves in three games and a save percentage of .800. She has a 1-2 record as goalkeeper this season with a pair of tough-luck losses to University of Texas-El Paso and Sacred Heart of Hawaii. But it hasn’t gotten her spirits down as she looks forward to the rest of the season.
“Losing in the last 45 seconds of a game and then a penalty kick in double overtime is super frustrating,” Duffin said. “They were hard losses to come back from. I play it over in my head to see what I can do better. I’m just trying to constantly improve and improve my team.”
Duffin has gained the respect of her team as she has in teams past. It is in her work ethic as well as her desire to improve that makes Duffin the player, and person, she is today.
“I have confidence in my team and I know they have confidence in me.”