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Freshman goalkeepers learn behind Iowa's all-time win leader

BY BEN WOLFSON | SEPTEMBER 21, 2011 7:20 AM

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This season, the Iowa soccer team has played 830 minutes of game time.

So far, senior goalkeeper Emily Moran has played in more than 750 of those available minutes, while freshmen goalkeepers Caitlin Schnorbach and Kiley Beck have shared the rest of the minutes. The pair appeared in goal for Iowa against Western Illinois and South Dakota.

Because Moran is a four-year starter and Iowa's all-time wins leader (30), Beck and Schnorbach aren't expected to receive a lot of playing time as the team continues conference play this weekend.

They said they are happy with that, and they will spend their time trying to grow as players and learn under Moran and goalkeeper coach Jaimel Johnson.

Johnson is in her second year as the Hawkeyes' goalkeeper coach. Before arriving in Iowa City, she was an All-American and All-SEC goalkeeper during her four-year playing career at Tennessee from 2005-08.

"I'm not that much older than them, and it hasn't been that long since I went through the process," Johnson said. "I understand what it feels like to play two games in a weekend and then come into training and have to keep focus."

During practice, the three goalkeepers take part in drills that Johnson selects to address whatever weaknesses she has seen in her players.

A favorite drill involves setting up flexible poles in front of the goal. The goalies maneuver through them quickly, and as they emerge behind the last pole, Johnson will fire off a quick shot that the players have to react to.

"I've watched other goalkeeper coaches and the top players and watched them train," Johnson said about the drill. "It's just working on mobility and footwork and pulling them out of position so they can be able to recover, because in games, they won't always be in [the correct] position."

The three keepers shout encouragement to each other during the drills and critique themselves on things they need to improve.

Despite not seeing much game time, Schnorbach and Beck agree they have improved greatly because practicing with and observing Moran.

"I would say the biggest thing I have learned from her is her mentality," Schnorbach said. "She's an extremely skilled player and she has so much confidence. One of her biggest strengths is that she goes out, she knows she's going to win the ball, and she's not going to let an easy goal in."

The freshmen agreed the transition from playing high-school soccer to Division-I was difficult because of the intensity, physicality, and speed displayed in the Big Ten.

Moran, who started as a freshman, said the best thing a young keeper can do is to read and react to plays.

"You try not to think and just play on your instincts more," she said. "All of us have had the training and I think we all are capable to step in; it's just that goalkeeping is a mental thing, and if you think about it too much, it will hurt you."

When Moran graduates, the goalkeeping duties will be left to Schnorbach and Beck. The pair said they hope they will have had enough training to be as successful as their predecessor.

"[This season] is going really well, and I'm having a lot of fun," Beck said. "I'm learning a lot from Emily. Her communication on the field is unbelievable. Jaimel is teaching me a lot about footwork and the importance of that … I'm in the perfect position to learn this year, and I've done pretty well so far."


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