Athlete of the week: Etzel ’19 goes for shutout mark in final game of season

Goalie’s impressive, imaginative saves have given Bears chance to end season at .500

Staff Writer
Friday, November 6, 2015

Christine Etzel ’19 has taken the net and made it hers in an impressive rookie campaign during which she has recorded five shutouts.

In the history of Brown women’s soccer, only five goalies have recorded six shutouts in a season. Christine Etzel ’19, with one game remaining on the season, has the chance to become the sixth.

Etzel has taken the Ivy League by storm in her first season, earning two Co-Ivy League Rookie of the Week awards and posting a 0.99 goals-against average, a 0.837 save percentage and five shutouts. In games in which Etzel has started and the Bears have scored at least one goal, they are 6-2.

This week against Penn (6-4-5, 1-2-3 Ivy), Etzel posted her fifth shutout of the season, making seven saves and helping the Bears (6-7-2, 2-3-1) to a 1-0 victory. Thanks in part to Etzel’s contributions, the Bears have a chance to finish the season with a .500 record, both overall and in Ivy League competition.

Throughout the season, Etzel has drawn praise from players, fans, coaches and broadcasters, and her acrobatic saves have repeatedly brought crowds to their feet. After a particularly impressive save against Penn, in which she was forced to repel a header by tipping it backwards off her own crossbar, broadcaster Mike Rubin pronounced it “the save of the season.”

For her rock-solid presence in net, her contributions to a suddenly revived season and her forays into the Brown record books during just her first year, Etzel has been named The Herald’s Athlete of the Week.

Herald: When did you start playing soccer? Have you always played goalie?

Etzel: I haven’t always played goalie. I actually made my first club team as a field player and then switched to being a goalkeeper. I’ve been playing my whole life — I don’t know exactly when I started.

What have you enjoyed about the Brown program in particular?

The team is very close, and it was really nice coming in and being able to connect with everyone. It didn’t matter what age you were — it was never an issue, so coming in, being comfortable with the team and playing with a great group of girls who are so talented is a big plus.

What has led to your success in net this year?

Obviously, I have a great team in front of me that helps me out. So it’s not just me making the saves. It’s them getting the rebound out. But also just training with coaches every day and training in the past with my former coaches helps.

We can’t leave this one alone — what was the thought process behind that ridiculous save off your own crossbar?

With those big saves, you’re not really thinking, it just kind of happens. It’s all the training that you pull together. I saw the ball, and I knew from training that I just need to get my hand up there and hope for the best.

And then Charlotte Beach ’16 bicycled it out?

Yeah! We talked about that after — both of us couldn’t believe that that play just happened.

After such a great win against Penn, do you guys think you can keep the momentum rolling going into Yale and finish with a .500 season?

Yeah, hopefully we can keep the momentum going. I think our season really picked up after the Cornell game. We said, “Alright, we can definitely turn the end of our season around here and make something of it.” We’re trying to keep that momentum up, trying to keep the intensity up.

How does next season look?

Honestly, I think we’re still focused on this season — we’re not done yet. We have one more game, and that’s still a really big game for us because it’s an Ivy. So we’re not really focusing too much on next season, but we do have a good, solid group of girls going into next season as well.

Let’s end on a fun one — do you play any sports besides soccer?

In high school, I played basketball, and I rode too. It’s going to be weird not playing basketball and soccer, or having two sports in one season after this — I’ll have a break for the first time. So that should be interesting.

— This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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