September 25, 2003

Senior Goalkeeper Backs Red, Acts as Role Model

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The remarkable run of senior goalkeeper Kaitlin Tierney is in its final stage. Tierney not only has the role of leading the 2003 field hockey squad on the field, but as one of the elder stateswomen on the team, she understands that she has the responsibility of conveying positive values to her younger teammates.

“I know the younger girls look up to the seniors for guidance. My position is so specialized that it’s kind of a tradition to take the younger goalies under your wing,” she said.

This job is important to Tierney because she has realized the significance of good role models for the freshmen. As a rookie herself, Tierney was groomed to be the future goalkeeper of the squad. But those plans were foiled when she was thrown into a precarious situation that turned out to be the highlight of her career. Tierney was tossed into the fire after an injury to the senior starting goalkeeper and her upperclassman leader. In her collegiate debut, Tierney made 32 saves against nationally-ranked Princeton.

“I was just a clueless, inexperienced freshman, and in the first five minutes of the game, I had a stroke called on me and I saved it,” Tierney said.

This season, with interim head coach Phillip Sykes joining the Red family, Tierney’s leadership and superb play have been even more essential.

“Kaitlin has been a crucial part of this team both on and off the field. She is a very confident player and person and that mentality is infectious throughout our defense because of her,” Sykes said.

After the Red finished a disappointing weekend in Pennsylvania, losing to Penn, 3-0, and Lafayette by a 4-1 margin, Tierney admitted that there may be a learning curve with the new coaching staff in place.

“The defense has changed from a man-to-man system to a zone defense,” Tierney said. “Right now, the team is adapting to the new system of play. But each day we have been improving and becoming more comfortable with each other and with the system.”

Tierney conceded that the team’s record, which is 2-4, “is a little discouraging,” but she has hope for the crew’s future.

“I have been fairly pleased with my performance,” she said, “I have been getting some tough calls and goals scored on me but I have a good feeling we’re going to do really well this year.”

For Tierney, it may be difficult for her to top her performance of a year ago. During the 2002 campaign, the Red goalkeeper posted a remarkable .814 goals against average, good enough for fifth in the country. During that run, she posted 118 saves, including five games with double-digit saves.

As far as her training, Tierney not only participates in the team’s regular practices, which she mentioned are “intense and very organized,” but she also lifts weights with the team, partakes in conditioning drills, short runs, jump ropes, and stadium runs.

Tierney added that playing field hockey, especially over the past three years, could not have been possible without the backing of her parents.

“They have been extremely supportive with my decisions from elementary school through college,” she said. “Not once have they ever been pushy or disappointed with me for playing awful. They are a relief to have in the stands at games. They are always supporting me and everything that comes out of their mouths is encouraging.”

Archived article by Josh Fox