GVSU soccer moves forward with new goalie

GVL / Emily Frye 
Grand Valley State womens soccer goalkeepers pose for a photo in the Kelly Sports Center on Tuesday September 8th, 2015.

GVL / Emily Frye Grand Valley State women’s soccer goalkeepers pose for a photo in the Kelly Sports Center on Tuesday September 8th, 2015.

Mason Tronsor

Goalkeeper – one of the most important positions on the soccer field. The last line of defense. A lone ranger. One who must be prepared to handle pressure, and often absorb blame.

That’s a tall order for a freshman.

“A goalkeeper must be able to make the saves they are suppose to,” said Jeff Hosler, Grand Valley State women’s head soccer coach.

A regulation college soccer goal is seven feet high and 21 feet wide. GVSU’s starting goalkeeper, freshman Emily Maresh, is five-feet-10 inches tall. Lateral quickness and athleticism are essentials.

Opposing players can strike soccer balls up to 20 mph. Top players can make the ball move in the air. Players can strike the ball at a certain angle with their feet to make the ball curve or float. It is akin to trying to hit a curveball in baseball.

“A goalkeeper must have courage,” Hosler said. “They have to be willing to come off their lines and make plays.”

Maresh showed courage and resilience last weekend. After giving up three goals in the season-opening loss to Quincy, Maresh shook off the performance and came out strong with a shutout the next game against Truman State.

“Being a goalkeeper is definitely difficult,” Maresh said. “You have to constantly be aware of what is happening in the game and you have to be able to react within a second.”

It takes hard work and dedication to craft to become a consistently strong goalkeeper. Certain practice routines and workouts described by Maresh and the rest of the goalkeepers on the roster show how much concentration and focus come into play.

The goalkeepers have separate training from the rest of the squad for the first half of every training session. This is where they work on their craft and small techniques such as diving, footwork and communication that can turn an average goalkeeper into an elite netminder.

“We expect our goalkeepers to help us keep the ball while in the attack, and to help organize defensively when we lose the ball,” said Annette Stromberg, GVSU’s assistant coach who works with the goalkeepers. “We also expect them to make routine saves cleanly, and then help restart our attack quickly.”

A goalkeeper is more than just someone who keeps the ball from going into the net. They are expected to act like coaches on the field. Communication is one of the big elements that coaches stress to the goalkeepers. A goalkeeper must be able to communicate with its defense clearly in order to keep the other team’s scoring chances to the bare minimum.

The Lakers currently have four goalkeepers on their roster. Two are freshman and two are sophomores. The task to replace senior goalkeeper Andrea Strauss from last season is a huge challenge, but according to Hosler, these ladies are up for the challenge.

“The competition was tight in preseason camp, but eventually Emily won out,” he said. “She proved to be the most versatile goalkeeper.”

Maresh, a freshman from Novi, Michigan, is just getting her feet wet in collegiate soccer. However, so far she has shown signs of a potential lockdown keeper, something the Lakers desperately need if they want to win that elusive third straight national championship.