Freshman keeper playing above her years

Freshman keeper playing above her years

True freshman Savannah Thompson is excelling in high-profile position.

By Joe Foley, CSU-Pueblo Athletics

It's never easy playing a collegiate sport as a true freshman. The speed of the game is a step faster. The athletes playing the sport are seen as better.

And freshman goalkeeper Savannah Thompson is up to that lofty challenge. 

Thompson, a freshman from Upland, Calif., has already had a very interesting fall, just eight games into the Pack's season. 

She began her collegiate career with a quiet bang, posting a shutout against Angelo State in a tournament game 626 miles away in San Angelo, Tex.  The win helped put Thompson into the Pack history books as she became just the fourth keeper in school history to post a shutout in her first collegiate start.

But the official coming out party would come in her first home match.

'This or That' with Savannah Thompson

Chocolate or Vanilla? - Vanilla
English Premier League or Spanish La Liga? - English Premier League
Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo? – Cristiano Ronaldo
Football or Futbol? – Football
More pressure in a shootout? Goalie or shooter? – Shooter

Soccer Team – Manchester United
Goalie – Kevin Hartman, FC Dallas
Movie – "The Hangover"
Food – Mexican

A game was under the brightest of lights against nationally-ranked Fort Lewis, a conference foe of the Pack and a longtime thorn in the ThunderWolves' sides. To add to the pressure of starting in her first home game, the contest was also the first-ever night soccer game, which drew a record crowd of over 400.

"I was really nervous at first but I just had to talk to coach, my captains and my teammates about relaxing and playing my game," Thompson said. "They all said that they trust me so it relaxed me." 

The talk must have worked as the ThunderWolves went on to defeat Fort Lewis 2-1, much thanks to Thompson who allowed only one goal on 21 shots. The win was a history-maker for the Pack - it was the first ever win in program history over a nationally-ranked opponent.

"Coming into the last minute I was so stoked," Thompson said.  "I'm a freshman so it's really exciting for me, and having my team behind me was the most amazing feeling I've ever had," Thompson said.

The win already holds a bright spot in Thompson's mind on her list top soccer moments, thanks to enthusiastic support from the fans in attendance and because the moment was "amazing," she said.

While it may be all business on the field for the goalkeeper, she counteracts her serious on-the-field personality with a care-free, confident side that shines brightly to those around her.

CSU-Pueblo head women's soccer coach, Janet Cassidy, also described Thompson as a not so typical goalkeeper.

"She doesn't really yell a lot," Cassidy said, "but she stays calm and is very good at giving directions in the back."

Cassidy says Thompson has all the attributes needed to be a quality goalkeeper at such a young stage in her collegiate career.

"She's tall (5-foot-9) and has a huge wingspan," said Cassidy. "She's got great technique for a goalkeeper and she's definitely a Division I player."

Most colleges that contacted Thompson offered her an opportunity to play, but only attaching the string that she redshirt during her first year on campus.  CSU-Pueblo, however, gave her a chance to start as a freshman.  Thompson also says she was drawn to the school after her visit. She credits the coaching staff, team and school with helping find her new team.

So far through five starts, her collegiate career has been interesting, to say the least. 

After starting her career with a shutout and following it with a Fort Lewis win, she has seen a bitter rivalry game (Sept. 22's game vs. UC-Colorado Springs) and been in an epic collision, suffering a rough injury in the Pack's game vs. Nebraska-Kearney Sept. 26, in which her day ended with an ambulance ride with fears of an ugly spinal cord injury. 

The freshman was lucky, though, as the scary injury proved to be nothing serious, and she later returned to the Rawlings Soccer Field to the waiting arms of her concerned teammates.

It's quite a lot to swallow for a freshman, but she already has displayed wisdom and experienced moments far beyond her years.

Ten games remain on the schedule in the current season, enough to propel her even further into ThunderWolf soccer history.