Goalkeeper Lindsey Carley could have already left Concordia University in the rearview mirror. She’s got a diploma in hand following four years as an accounting and business administration student. But Carley has decided she just couldn’t leave that one year of athletic eligibility on the table. She’ll be a super senior this fall for Head Coach Thomas Goines in his first year leading the Bulldog women’s soccer program.
Carley wasn’t keen on her collegiate soccer career concluding with the 4-0 GPAC tournament quarterfinal loss last season at Jamestown. Said Carley, “I basically knew once we were at the end of the Jamestown game last fall that I would be back for sure. There was no way I could end on that. There have been some external factors that have come up since then that made the decision a little harder. When it came down to it, I really couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play the game one last year. These past four years at Concordia have been really special and I’m really excited to come back for one more season with the team.”
Carley has spent the summer in West Des Moines, near her hometown, while working at Farm Bureau (she will also be getting her wisdom teeth pulled later this week – fun times!). At the same time, she’s working on becoming an even better keeper. The three-year starter would have already gone down as one of the top keepers in program history. She ranks top five on the school’s all-time lists for shutouts (second), save percentage (second), goals against average (second), minutes played at goalkeeper (third) and games played at goalkeeper (third).
But every player on the roster has something to prove with a new head coach at the helm, even if you were the 2017 GPAC Defensive Player of the Year. Carley will play for a third different head coach this fall. Unfortunately, the abrupt departure from on-campus learning and activities did not allow for a typical spring practice season.
“It definitely went a lot different than we ever would have expected,” Carley said. “We’ve done a lot this summer to get to know Coach. We’ve had a lot of team meetings – definitely more than we ever did in the past. That’s provided the foundation to stay connected and continue to get to know our new coach. Nothing can replace the training time that we missed out on. I think going into the fall, having a new coach could play to our advantage. Everyone knows that no one’s spot is secured at this time. I think that will breed a very competitive environment.”
Goines referred to the talent on hand as the best he’s inherited at the start of any of his coaching destinations, which have included Concordia University, Chicago and Barton College (N.C.). He also couldn’t ask for a more seasoned goalkeeper. Carley’s development has been aided in recent years by goalkeeper coaches Dan Ball and Adam Lewis. It’s worth repeating the success of 2017 when, with Carley in goal, the Bulldogs allowed just one goal for the entirety of conference regular-season play.
With a younger team in 2019, Concordia slipped back to the middle of the pack in the GPAC. Carley and teammates like Tori Cera and Michaela Twito know what it’s like to play for conference championships. They hope some of the growing pains experienced last season will lead the Bulldogs back up the standings in 2020.
“Obviously we got off to a rough start last fall,” Carley said. “Not the way you want to start a season, but I think we grew a lot as a team. We had a young team and a lot of fresh faces. I think there was some growing up to do experience-wise and maturity-wise. We grew a lot last fall. The experience on the field is invaluable. I think this fall we have a chance at getting back to our championship-caliber level.”
The team’s level of commitment over a unique offseason may end up being the key. Carley has stayed up with workout programs supplied by both Goines and strength and conditioning coach Todd Berner. Carley says it’s a matter of individual accountability.
The coronavirus pandemic has created plenty of uncertainty around the world, but Carley is preparing to play this fall.
“As players, obviously we want to play,” Carley said. “We want to do whatever we can to get back and be on the field with our teammates. Some of that comes with self-sacrifice and not going out and doing stupid things like going out to bars or whatever. If we can get it done safely, I’m very excited to get back on the field. It all comes down to keeping everybody safe and healthy.”
The official start of the season has been delayed until Sept. 5 when Concordia is slated to host Oklahoma City University. It will be nearly a month after the start of the fall academic year on Aug. 10. That will make for an unusual preseason without rigorous two-a-days. That’s okay with Carley. She’ll take some abnormality if it comes along with a soccer season. Says Carley, “At this point it seems like they’re going to be able to get us back safely. I’m excited and confident that the season will go well.”