WSOC: Freshman keeper Nolan grows on, off field in first collegiate season

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Anthony Goss

ST. BONAVENTURE, — Though the St. Bonaventure women’s soccer team’s 2020-21 campaign was far from ideal, the team might have found a key piece for the program going forward.

Freshman goalkeeper Mackenzie Nolan stepped into the net for Bona and started all eight games in a condensed season. For Nolan, the decision to play for SBU was an easy one. 

“I knew that this was the right school for me when I was sitting one day watching them practice, I was listening to hard they were pushing each other,” Nolan said. “That on top of the beautiful scenery…. I was just completely sold.” 

Bona finished 0-8 on the season, with all loses coming against the same three opponents (Saint Louis, Duquesne and Dayton).  

“Being a goalkeeper, it is kind of defeating to get scored on, especially for some games to be 5-1 or 4-0,” Nolan said. 

Nonetheless, Nolan, a native of Hilton, New York, found relief in the experience the season gave she and her teammates. 

“I know that right now, we are a very young team, and I have lots of up for us in the future when we become more experienced together,” Nolan said. “I would never put my head down on a season like this because I know it’s only going to make us better.” 

While the Bonnies did not find much success in the win column, Nolan used the season to develop her game.  

“I started off with my positioning being a little rough,” Nolan said. “That’s one thing my coach and I have been working on in our training is cutting of the angle and getting ready for the shot.” 

Nolan also worked on other areas of improvement such as her grip on the ball, increasing the distance of her punts and enhancing her vertical leap.

More than just technical work though, she saw herself developing into a leader despite her inexperience compared to some of her teammates.

“Being a freshman, I am a little hesitant to be a leader off the field, but I think that is something I can definitely grow into,” Nolan said. “Even coming in here next year as a sophomore, I know what it feels like to be walking into a team that feels older. I can be that leader and push the freshmen because I know where they are coming from.” 

Nolan also noted the necessity of developing vocal leadership skills given her position on the field. 

“As a goalkeeper, you definitely have to be a leader,” Nolan said. “You have to use your voice. I’ve found that my voice a lot of times has prevented shots on goal and has helped us very much.” 

Nolan credited her development in the net to assistant coach Abby Pearson. 

“She has taken that extra time to really focus on my skills,” Nolan said. “She likes to pull apart lots of things that are easy fixes.” 

Embarking on this strange season gave the team a limited experience according to Nolan. However, she has embraced this group despite the adversity they faced. 

“My experience, from what I’ve been told, has been limited,” Nolan said. “Regardless, I don’t know any difference, so I’ve enjoyed what I’ve experienced so far. I’ve gotten really close with the team; they treat each other like family.” 

One can only hope for a season closer to normal next fall, but Nolan’s improvements as a player and a leader will be essential for the team’s growth going forward. 

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