Goalkeepers use their position to better the team, push one another

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Senior goalie Sophia Leva (27) looks on as the team practices down at Valley Fields (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Four games into the season, the Marquette women’s lacrosse team has a record of 2-2 and is now on a two-game win streak with the team’s wins and losses finishing in rather similar ways. The goaltending distribution between redshirt senior Juliana Horning and senior Sophia Leva has also been pretty even. They both have made appearances in every game thus far for the Golden Eagles.

While Horning and Leva’s play time has been somewhat equal, head coach Meredith Black noted that they each have different strengths in different areas of the game.

“They’re both top quality so they can handle any situation, but … Sophia is better at eight meter goal, so if we are fouling a lot that’d be a situation where she’d be the go to,” Black said. “Jules is more active outside of the cage, her clear is a little bit more consistent, so if we needed to push the tempo of the game or take some risks Jules would be the better option.”

Coach Black said that since both goalies are equally as good with handling situations, the plan is to play who is “hot,” meaning that whichever goalie is playing better gets more playing time.

While Black said it can be a challenge choosing who to play, she also said that this “problem” is a coach’s “dream.”

“The amazing part is that it’s every coach’s dream to have two goalies so that in any given day if you need to switch one, if one’s having a bad day, you have an equal, if not better goalie to put in. So having those options, one’s a righty (Horning) and ones a lefty (Leva), having those options has just been amazing,” Black said. “The tough part is they both deserve quality and significant playing time and only one goalie plays at a time. That part definitely makes our jobs difficult, as coaches, to decide when and who should be playing…They could both be 60-minute players for any Division I team.”

While Horning and Leva are competitive with each other, they both agreed that they have a good relationship with each other. Leva even said that they like to call their time in practice as “goalie world.”

“It can be a lonely place because you’re the only people on the field that understand what the other one is going through, so I think we formed a really tight bond from the beginning and that’s only grown over our four years together,” Leva said.

Horning sees this situation as an advantage for her team both during games and during practice by not only having two really good, but two different types of goaltender.

“Having the ability to change one for the other is an advantage that some teams might not have … because we have different playing styles from a strategy standpoint it can be useful as well because I’m a righty, she’s a lefty (Leva), that in and of itself is gonna give attackers different looks, so I think that’s good for us to have and also for our teammates to see, because when they face opponent goalies they are well prepared to seeing a lefty and a righty,” Horning said.

Besides making their teammates better, Leva said that the two of them make each other better in net.

“We’re pretty similar in personality off the field so we get along really well and that’s helped us translate on how to push each other because we know how to get the best out of one another,” Leva said. “So I think on and off the field we have just been really helpful to one another to give feedback and push one another and were also super competitive so we’re always trying to push the other one (to be better).”

This story was written by Jackson Gross. He can be reached at Jackson.gross@marquette.edu or @JacksonGross6.