Crafting a winning team while losing nine seniors in one season would be a tall task for any team. That excuse doesn’t fly with Utah Valley University women’s soccer coach Brent Anderson.
“We did lose a lot of valuable girls, but the seniors we have coming back this year provide a lot of leadership,” Anderson said. “They are preparing well and we have some amazingly talented players this year.”
The Wolverines will not have to rely solely on senior leadership the season. Redshirt sophomore Lauren Sack returns as the Great West Conference goalkeeper of the year. As a freshman, she tallied an 8-6-1 record as well as setting a school record 0.98 goals against average. She also tied a school record with four shutouts.
“Lauren is very athletic. She is explosive laterally, can jump, and has great hands,” Anderson said. “But what makes her great is her leadership. She can position the defense so they can be better and she doesn’t have to make a great save.”
Amazingly enough, Sack did not play keeper until her senior year of high school. She gave up basketball and track after her sophomore year at McQueen high school in Reno, Nevada, to focus on soccer, where she excelled and was named All-League three times.
She will be the first, however, to tell you that it’s not all up to her this year.
“I think this year will be great. We have a lot of awesome girls on this team,” Sack said. “We all have a lot of fun together and we play really well with one another. I think that this year will be better than last year as far as wins and losses.”
This seasons schedule will be a stiff challenge, with most notably the University of Miami coming to town.
“This year will be tough,” Anderson said. “We get to travel to Fordham, Princeton, and Baylor. It will be a good experience for these girls to get to travel and see some of these places and play some formidable teams.”
When further asked about this year’s challenging schedule, Anderson once again pointed to his standout goalie.
“It takes a certain mindset to play goalie,” Anderson said. “You have to want it and be aggressive. Lauren has that. She is a natural keeper and has the instincts that make her physical talents even better. That type of mindset is what is going to help make this season a success, and we have a lot of girls that have that mental toughness.”
By Assistant Sports Editor Jonathan Boldt