Being a goalkeeper is about more than just playing within the lines that make up the penalty box. There is more to the position than trying to stop a ball from making its way into the back of the net, and University of Utah goalie Carly Nelson understands what is required of her.
“There is a lot of pressure and it can be really stressful at times,” Nelson said. “There needs to be a lot of communication, you need to be quick, see everything and tell other players what to do. There is a lot of pressure on the goalie.”
But after notching a career-high 10 saves en route to a 0-0 draw against then-ranked No.10 USC, Nelson was named Pac-12 Keeper of the Week on Tuesday, Sept. 26.
In the last few minutes of the match against the Trojans, Nelson managed to save a penalty kick shot by the Trojans, preserving the point for Utah. With five shutouts in her career — her second this season — Nelson moved up to third place in the Pac-12 standings with an average of 3.56 saves per match.
This marked Nelson’s first time being awarded this honor, and she said it was a great accomplishment, and that it shows what kind of sophomore year she’s having.
Although this recognition is based on Nelson’s performance against USC, head coach Rich Manning said that she has been playing at an advanced level in a couple of other games this season as well — notably in the Kansas contest. Manning added that she has been getting the Utes through some tough games thanks to “great goalkeeping.”
“She played at a very high level in [Kansas and USC],” Manning said. “That was a elite goalkeeping performance for a college level so we were really pleased with that. I think the team and herself gained confidence from that moving forward.”
Manning described how there has been a change in Nelson and her demeanor since her first year with Utah to her sophomore season because now she is playing with more maturity and confidence, which is something Manning always hopes to see in his players. As the season goes along, Manning sees Nelson gaining more experience by making better decisions and communicating efficiently.
While Nelson believes Utah has been doing well this season, she said there is still room for improvement not only for her team, but also for herself. Along with adding more energy on the field, Nelson has been trying to work on her communication with her teammates, as well as her organization, her technical and tactical game and preventing goals.
With room to grow, Manning is looking forward to seeing Nelson — and all his other players — continue to make strides for the rest of the season. To Manning, goalkeeping is a judgment and decision based position, and he wants to keep getting that type of production that he is seeing out of her now, all season long.
“I want to see all of those decisions continue to be consistent,” Manning said. “Like when she has the ball, to whom does she pass it to or when the other team has the ball in front of our goal, she needs to organize the defense or when there is a corner kick or free kick against us, she can set up the defense in the right way. Those are the things I’m looking forward to and I think she is making great strides in, and I’d like to see that continue.”