Freshman Utley Making Most of Opportunity Between the Pipes|
Oct. 11, 2011
By Megan Roehm
Every soccer team has a goalkeeper, who is often considered the team leader that holds the team together. For the University of Cincinnati women's soccer team, that position belongs to Kristina Utley, a true freshman and the starting goalkeeper for the Bearcats.
Utley, who is in her first year at UC, is from Castro Valley, Calif. and one of the very few true freshmen starting in the goal in the BIG EAST. While hard work and dedication are obvious factors, head coach Michelle Salmon also credits natural athletic ability for giving Utley this opportunity.
"As a keeper, one of her strengths is that she is so athletic," Salmon said. "She can be heading in one direction and realize she needs to go the other and she has the ability to fix it while she's in the air. That's a rarity."
Salmon describes Utley as a team leader who will do whatever it takes to be the best player she can be. She said she has quickly matured as a player over the past season and is doing everything right.
"Kristina is never content with being average and that's a great trait to have," Salmon said. She's always out their working and always wanting to get better and that's an admirable trait to have."
According to Utley, it is important to her to do everything she can to be the best player she can be and becoming starting goalkeeper as a freshman took a lot of work.
"Coming to Cincinnati, I was hoping to start and was willing to work really hard to get to that starting position," she said. "Every day in preseason I would practice as hard as I could and put in all the time and effort I could."
Utley also credits the support from her team when it comes to her success in the goal.
"We all really support each other and it's like having a big family," Utley said. "Everyone has been really supportive and helpful and welcoming me to the team."
Salmon also sees how well the team works with Utley in the goal as an advantage for the Bearcats. She said the back line really work well with Utley's personality and composure, which makes for a strong defense.
"What I like about Kristina is that there is a calmness about her and when you are looking at our back line, that pairs well with their personalities," Salmon said. "On top of that, she makes all the saves she's supposed to."
Salmon said Utley is a consistent person on and off the field, which not only makes her successful in the games, but it makes her successful in life. She said the amount of effort Utley puts into everything she does is what separates her from others.
"Utley lives her life by consistently doing the right thing all the time and that translates to the field," she said. "In turn, our upperclassmen respect her so much and they love her. A lot has to do with her position but it also has to do with how she is as a person."
While she is already having success at Cincinnati, Utley still wants to improve in any way that she can.
"For the rest of this season, I'm trying to improve my communication on the field," Utley said. "But in general, my goal is to save as many goals as I can and improve on the field overall."
As Utley continues to work hard in school and in soccer, Coach Salmon has no doubt she will only get better from here.
"It comes down to how much are you willing to put in, and with Utley, I don't question that at all," she said. "I know she is willing to sacrifice and work hard and because of that, she's going to continue to do everything right."