Sometimes a player’s passion for the game can wane over time. For senior goalkeeper Emma Kruse, soccer was somewhat of an afterthought after playing high school soccer at Forrest Park in Woodbridge, Virginia. Kruse actually set her sights on basketball but decided against it because of the running involved.
“Now I play soccer and there’s so much running,” Kruse said jokingly.
Time away from the game caused Kruse to yearn for her playing days once more. Having a class with senior forward Maren Johansen helped correct that. Kruse talked with Johansen about how she played soccer in high school, and invited Johansen for a pickup game with some friends. Johansen asked Kruse if she ever considered playing soccer collegiately because the team was down a goalkeeper.
“I emailed the coach at the time (Tiffany Sahaydak) and I went up to a training session and then I trained with them for about a month and Tiff called me and asked ‘Do you want to be on this team?’ and I said ‘yeah’, and now here I am,” Kruse said.
Kruse’s play inside the nets has helped the team endure a four-week unbeaten streak this season. Though that streak would come to an end on Oct. 5 against La Salle University, her play helped the Lady Rams go 4-1-1 in the month of October.
The La Salle loss was the first for the Lady Rams in just under a month, with the previous coming Sept. 7 at James Madison University. It left VCU with a 5-4-3 record overall, and .500 in the Atlantic 10 conference to place seventh. It was also the first time since an Aug. 31 loss to Clemson University that VCU has conceded multiple goals in a game.
La Salle, the two-time defending A-10 champions, opened the scoring just 38 seconds in when senior forward Kelsey Haycook, hit a shot in the upper right corner. Haycook extended the lead for the Explorers 18 minutes later when she netted her 10th goal of the season. The two goals took Haycook, a New Jersey native, atop the A-10 individual scoring leaderboard and were enough to earn her A-10 player of the week honors. With the Rams unable to force themselves back in the game, La Salle added one more goal in the 80th minute with a final score of 3-1.
The loss was a setback for Kruse and her teammates, but her protection of the net has been consistently beneficial to the team.She has recorded five shutouts in 12 games played.
“I wish it was more,” Kruse said. “Five does not seem like anything, but better five than zero, so I’m happy about that.”
Moreover, the Rams defense has managed to concede only five goals in their past eight games, a significant improvement from the first four games of the season, in which the Rams conceded 14.
Kruse said she feels the season has gone well after a tough start.
“Good teams will expose you and your weakness,” Kruse said. “(So) then we go into training and try to get better at what we’re not so good at.”
The Lady Rams continue conference play with four consecutive home games, the first of which was played on Sunday, Oct. 12 against the University of Rhode Island. However, results for the game were not final as of press time.
Head coach Lindsey Vanderspiegel’s team continues their multiple home game stretch against conference foes University of Richmond on Oct. 17, Davidson College on Oct. 19, and George Washington University on Oct. 25.
For Kruse, as her collegiate career draws to a close, she said she couldn’t imagine her life without soccer now, adding she doesn’t know where she would be if she wasn’t part of the team. However, she does know this: she is forever grateful to Johansen for providing her an opportunity to fall in love with the game again.