Sophomore goalkeeper Brooke Dennis runs after the ball during the soccer game against Morehead State on Aug. 31 at the Briner Sports Complex. DN PHOTO BREANNA DAUGHERTY
SOCCER: Goalkeeper looks to continue early season success
Goalkeepers are tasked with two of the most important jobs on a soccer field — defending their team's goal and keeping everyone synchronized.
This season, Ball State’s goalkeeper Brooke Dennis has been doing both, as her stats and sore throat can attest to.
“We worked on calling out and coaching on the field all throughout preseason, which is why I’ve almost lost my voice,” Dennis said while laughing.
So far, her preparation this offseason seems to be paying off.
A sophomore, Dennis has recorded two shutouts in four games, as the Cardinals have gotten off to a 2-1-1 start. She has tallied 20 saves on the season compared to the 18 combined saves by Ball State’s opponents.
The addition of a goalkeeper coach Ante Cop has also seemed to have a positive impact on Dennis.
“I was always taught to stand my ground and stand up during breakaways,” Dennis said. “[Cop] taught me to keep moving and move in towards them.”
Dennis and fellow goalkeeper, freshman Alyssa Heintschel, also worked with Cop during the offseason on their reaction times and having quicker feet.
“I watched [Dennis and Heintschel] closely when I first got here,” Cop said. “I noticed quickly that they both bring with them a lot of quality to the goalkeeping position.”
Cop, who played professional soccer prior to joining the Ball State soccer coaching staff, described the position of goalkeeper as being another coach on the field and someone the rest of the team can count on.
Even though Dennis and Heintschel are competing for the same position, the two are friends off the field.
“I pick [Alyssa] up after classes for our early practices and I really like her,” Dennis said. “I’m really competitive, so having her there just ups my game, and it also is great to have someone that I can talk to and not butt heads with.”
Last year, former Ball State goalkeeper Layne Schramm finished the season ranked 20th in the nation in save percentage. Dennis, who sat behind Schramm as a freshman, used the senior’s performance as motivation.
“[Layne] did great last year and upped her game,” Dennis said. “I took that as more motivation to up my own game, for not only when I played last year, but this year.”
Though the team lost Schramm, the Cardinals return 20 letterwinners for the 2014 season.
Dennis said the team has focused on chemistry-building exercises this year.
"We all are able to hang out with each other, nobody is left out,” she said. “There are no cliques, we are a big family.”
After barely losing the MAC Championship last season, Dennis and her ‘big family’ have laid out big goals.
“I, as an individual want to shutout at least half my games this season, and as a team we really are shooting to win the MAC title this year,” Dennis said. “We really feel confident and want to be near the top again.”