Kulla leads by example

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In most cases, college athletes watch video clips of professionals when looking for inspiration in their specific sport. In Julia Victor’s case, she watches a clip of her team’s goalkeeper, Natalie Kulla, making incredible saves in a game last season.

“It all comes back to the Notre Dame game last year where she made some amazing saves,” said Victor, Kulla’s roommate. “I keep a clip on my computer where she made two saves in the box and she was on the ground and kicked one out.”

Although Marquette lost that game 2-0, Kulla made nine saves and kept the game close — something she does quite often.

“I’m pretty much always defensive-minded,” Kulla said. “I’m constantly reminding the defense to stay focused and be smart about their decisions.”

Kulla, a redshirt sophomore, has allowed just four goals in nine games this season. In that span, opposing teams have fired 88 shots, forcing her to make 27 saves.

So with a brick wall protecting the goal, what’s not to love about having Kulla as a teammate?

“She brings a sense of leadership that isn’t forced. From her position she has to be a leader and a lot of people respect her,” Victor said. “She doesn’t command respect but it’s just something that’s natural to her.”

Kulla, a St. Louis native, was highly recruited by coach Markus Roeders and his staff because of the team’s need for a goalkeeper and for her coachable personality.

“Natalie has been playing for the past year and a half and she’s gained a lot of great experience,” Roeders said. “We knew she had a lot of talent coming in and she has really made great strides since she’s been at Marquette.”

Kulla has enjoyed her time as a Golden Eagle and listed last year’s NCAA tournament as one of the most memorable experiences of her career.

“The family atmosphere (the coaches) try to create really makes you comfortable,” she said. “Last year going to the tournament for the first time and being able to play was awesome.”

Along with being a stellar keeper and a great teammate, Kulla also brings her A-game to the classroom.

“She’s a great student and works hard at everything,” Roeders said. “She has characteristics as a person and a student and brings those into her game as a goalkeeper.”

As an engineering major, Kulla has a very demanding workload — one she is able to handle because of her determination.

“For me the most important part is understanding all the material in classes,” she said. “Keeping above a 3.0 is the ideal goal.”

Victor commends Kulla on being very down-to-earth despite her busy schedule.

“She’s a very well-rounded person in the way she plays and the way she is off the field,” Victor said. “She’s very intelligent and she’s the one who reminds me when I need to go study.”

Roeders believes Kulla’s maturity and leadership in just her second year as a goalkeeper is important for her and the team as a whole.

“Last year she didn’t play like a freshman,” Roeders said. “Her overall maturity level has grown and she is a lot more comfortable and confident.”

To this point in the season, Kulla has played every second between the posts for the Golden Eagles. Given her incredible goals against average and impressive performances against teams like North Carolina and Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Marquette has all the protection in the back it needs.