Inside the mind of UVU’s All-WAC goalkeeper
Christian Ledek | Sports Writer | @sea_led
Utah Valley University senior goalkeeper Jessica Duffin for the women’s soccer team was named to the 2015 preseason All-WAC conference team. It’s an accolade that is well deserved, having tied for first in shutouts with nine in 2014. Duffin was also named the 2015 preseason WAC Defender of the Year.
“It’s a team award, honestly. That’s how I see it,” Duffin said. “I didn’t get those shutouts by myself. It’s a compliment for the team. Obviously, it’s exciting getting those awards, but I recognize that it’s a team effort. It gives me motivation to try and uphold that award … I need to live up to that and exceed it.”
It has been a long soccer career for the goalkeeper from Smithfield, who started playing the sport at a very young age.
“I started playing soccer when I was four,” Duffin said. “I started playing goalie when I was 13.”
Ironically, a bad goalkeeper on her youth team is what kick started her career in between the posts.
“Our goalkeeper wasn’t very good and my coach said, ‘You’re athletic. Let’s see what you can do.’ He put me in goal and it just kind of stuck … I liked it,” she said.
Duffin has been able to blaze a trail of excellence at the goalkeeping position for the women’s soccer team. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, though. There was a time during her high school playing career at Skyview High when she couldn’t break through and solidify a starting position. Thoughts of quitting soccer all together permeated in her mind.
“Going into my junior year of high school, the starting goalkeeper was a year ahead of me, and my coach never gave me a chance to prove myself,” Duffin said. “I was very close to quitting soccer and trying out for the volleyball team. For some reason, I thought I needed to stick it out. “
Duffin has credited her teammates for helping her be as successful as she’s been. She also knows her coaches have helped her reach her full potential as a goalkeeper.
“It’s something that has come with time,” she said. “The unique thing with the goalkeeping position is that you get a lot better as you get older. You learn from your mistakes and you learn from your successes. As I look back, I can see the growth that I’ve had and think that I can do this and I do have the mental strength. Our coaches have emphasized mental strength the last few years and that’s something that has really helped me become a better goalkeeper because it is such a mental position. For 85 minutes you could be sitting back there, bored, and the next five minutes after could be all action. It’s something that has come with a lot of time.”
Duffin will try and continue the success she’s had by helping to lead the Wolverines to their first WAC championship and first NCAA tournament appearance in 2015.
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