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Close keepers

BY ROBBIE LEHMAN | OCTOBER 08, 2009 7:20 AM

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There is a family of five on the Iowa soccer team.

Though they are not really related, the Hawkeye goalkeeping unit is its own little clique, freshman Rachel Spellerberg said.

“At times, I think we feel separate because we have our own little powwow,” Spellerberg said. “We have fun together, and we do a lot of work outside of practice. But in the end, we’re all a team.”

Because the position is different from any other in soccer, it’s hard not to be disconnected from the rest of the team. The tightly knit group of goalkeepers is made up of Emily Moran, Kali Feiereisel, Erica Clausen, Stephanie Swanson, and Spellerberg.

“We come early and train together,” Swanson said. “For the most part, we hang out off the soccer field. We joke around with each other like we’re siblings. We’re pretty much a family.”

And like any family, each member has her own role. Moran, a sophomore from Kent, Ohio, started all 12 games this year, making 51 saves.

Iowa is third in the Big Ten with six shutouts, with Moran earning five of them. She said it’s just as much of an accomplishment for the entire unit, though.

“Every day in practice, I get challenged,” Moran said. “They’ve helped me by pushing me and each other.”

Although Moran is the clear No. 1 at the position, senior Clausen assumes the bulk of the leadership.

“It’s an ongoing joke that I’m referred to as the mom,” the Portland, Ore., native said. “I feel that it’s my duty to be a role model for the girls. I also try to bring a positive light to things, but also demand a lot.”

Clausen and the other keepers keep practices entertaining by goofing around, and they habitually play rock, paper, scissors every day to see who takes the goal first.

“I would describe the five of us as having a very sisterly relationship,” she said. “We have a great span of ages, which gives us a dynamic that not a lot of the other positions have.”

Feiereisel, a junior from Libertyville, Ill., started 10 games last season before breaking her arm. She is currently No. 2 on the depth chart, and she said she thinks the competition brings out the best of the group.

“Having more people actually helps everyone because of the competition brought out everyday,” she said. “Each person brings their own unique attributes on and off the field.”

Feiereisel, who her teammates call Fire, also believes the achievement-by-committee theory applies to the six shutouts.

“Emily’s making the saves she’s making because all of us are pushing each other during practice and giving each other advice, making each other better,” Feiereisel said.

A junior from Downers Grove, Ill., Swanson made one start in 2007, which ended in a shutout.

Spellerberg is the newbie from Cedar Rapids Kennedy High School trying to soak up everything she can from her more-experienced teammates.

“I’m definitely learning a lot from the upperclassmen,” she said. “They’re all so positive and they’ve tough me a lot.”

The unit’s high point of so far has been when Iowa built an early 3-0 lead over Northern Iowa and all five goalkeepers spent time in the net to earn a shutout.

“That was definitely a pretty cool experience,” Swanson said. “To have two keepers play a game, let alone have five, was unique. Everyone on the team has worked so hard that it’s great to get playing time and have recognition for that.”


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