September 11, 2007

Freshman Goaltender Matures Quickly

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Freshman goalkeeper Jodi Palmer was a little spooked this summer when she got a call from women’s soccer head coach Danielle LaRoche. LaRoche was letting the Maple Valley, Wash. native know that the returning starter was not coming back to Cornell, and that Palmer was penciled in as the Red’s starting goalkeeper.
“At first, I was really nervous about the whole thing. But then I thought about it, and realized that this was a good opportunity to show what I can do,” Palmer said.
LaRoche was a bit uneasy as well, to say the least. She dubbed it a “coaching nightmare” to enter her first season as a collegiate head coach with only one goalkeeper on the roster — and a freshman, at that. As soon as Palmer got to campus, however, LaRoche’s concerns were eased.
“Jodi walked in the door with confidence, training at a high level, and making some amazing saves for someone in her situation. For showing up as a freshman, she has done remarkably well,” LaRoche said.
Both player and coach agreed that one of Palmer’s best attributes is her ability to handle the ball with her feet. The Red feels assured that it can play the ball back to her and start its offensive buildup from the back. According to LaRoche, Palmer has grown increasingly confident over the first few games in her ability to quarterback the defense.
“She’s one of the biggest leaders of the freshman class. At first, she was a little shy. But now, she’ll bark and bite and give orders to our defense, which includes two senior backs. And they’ll respect and respond to her.”
Palmer was a four-year varsity starter on a team that won the 2005 Washington state championship. She was a two-time first-team all state honoree and is looking forward to turning Cornell into a big time program. The goalkeeper helped the Red to its first win this past weekend over Hartford, while earning her first collegiate shut out.
“It felt really good,” Palmer said of the win. “I was excited with how the team played; we performed really well.”
LaRoche is happy with Palmer’s performance thus far, citing her inexperience and initial anxiety as the only things that she has to work on — and those will fix themselves with more time between the posts.
“Some of the results that happened earlier in the season are unfortunate, because Jodi has performed remarkably well,” LaRoche said.
Palmer hopes that the Red’s string of solid performances will continue into this weekend, and that her 3.25 goals against average will continue to decline. The Red will host Siena on Friday night and Lafayette on Sunday afternoon. She says that the team is hungry after losing a game that they dominated for the first 20 minutes, and is looking to grab a couple of home wins.
“We just need the mindset that we can win and we need to bring it to every game. We need to have the mindset that we can do it.”