Husker women’s soccer: “Don’t even think about counting that”

Story by Pat Radigan, NewsNetNebraska

Tara Macdonald stood strong between the familiar goal posts on the Nebraska soccer field.

With one assistant coach dribbling down the sideline, she found herself preparing for the other two assistant coaches making runs toward her, hoping to slide a shot past the senior starter. The pressure Macdonald felt was a familiar feeling for the Husker’s last line of defense, but this time something was different.

She had numbers on her side.

As far as practices go for NU, goalkeeping duties are handled by committee. While Macdonald stands waiting to defend her net from the coaches, her teammates are nearby, voicing encouragement and tips, waiting for their turn in goal.

The drill continues on as the assistant coach making the passes calls out the score after each scoring attempt. When Macdonald’s turn is up, redshirt freshman Emma Stevens takes her place, but the coach doesn’t refresh the score after her first shot.

After Stevens sprawls to her left to punch out a shot, the coach adds another total to Macdonald’s score. In this drill, the goalies are being scored as a team. That means that even though Macdonald may not be in the box, she is still fighting for every point.

“You took too many touches,” Macdonald tells her coach as he celebrates scoring on her teammate.

“Don’t even think about counting that.”

This is a familiar scene at Husker soccer practice. From position-specific drills to scrimmages and small games, the NU goalies split the reps among the four keepers on the roster, while at the same time staying goalside to chime in with encouragement and advice.

When the field players start practice with a game of keep away, the goalies come together to warm each other up with close-range shots. When the teams splits into two, the four keepers form duos on each end, keeping up the communication and moral support even though their numbers have been cut in half.

Even when it’s time to join the rest of the team in small scrimmages, the keepers keep up their communication and displays of support for one another.

As they take their places in opposing goals, the competition kicks up a notch.

On one end, Macdonald punches out a cross, while Stevens answers with a dive to narrowly push a shot wide of the goal on the other end.

And even in that moment, when their positions and perception among teammates depends on their play, the keepers keep up the chatter. Telling each other where they went wrong and voicing encouragement as the team takes a quick water break.

For them, this is just another drill and another opportunity to grow individually by being there for each other every step of the way.

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