For anyone who thought a revamped coaching staff and new team system would slow women’s soccer, the team’s start to the season will have been a pleasant surprise. With a 3-1-1 record, Bruno is off to its best start in five years. And with four shutouts in the last five games, Brown’s goalkeeper Christine Etzel ’19 has played a major role in the team’s success.
Many moments have highlighted the Bears’ run so far — none more climactic than the final two minutes of their 1-0 victory over Lafayette Sunday. In the 88th minute, the referee called a penalty kick against Bruno. With the Bears up by one and the game on the line, Etzel produced a diving save to clinch the victory for Brown.
For her game-saving heroics versus Lafayette, Etzel has been named The Herald’s Athlete of the Week.
Herald: Everyone wants to know — what was going through your head leading up to the penalty, knowing that the win was on the line?
Etzel: I was pretty shocked that the ref would call the penalty that late in the game. It was the 88th minute of regular time so I think everyone one the team was like, “crap.” All I was thinking about was making the save. Penalty kicks are kind of 50/50 sometimes. You can practice them sometimes but you need a little luck, too. I was just trying to intimidate them a little bit and watch their eyes to see what side they might be shooting.
How did you feel after you realized you had saved the game?
I was pretty pumped, getting high-fives from my team. But immediately we had to set up for a corner kick and get everyone focused right after because the other team still had the play. So I was super pumped for five seconds and then I thought, “alright, we need someone front post and back post; we need to set up for this corner kick.” I think after the game we got to celebrate a bit more, but it was a pretty exciting five seconds.
How much of being a goalie is mental versus physical?
It’s definitely a good mix of having athletic ability and technique, but at the same time I think a lot of goalkeepers mature as they get older. A lot of people say goalkeepers are at their best in their 30s compared to field players in their 20s, and I think mentality is a very big part of it. You just have to learn through training and time how to deal with certain situations, what to say (and) where to set up your defense. It’s a lot of experience, dealing with different situations as they come.
It’s a new year and a new coaching staff. How is that dynamic playing out with the team so far this season?
I think it’s awesome. I know our team was a bit nervous because we weren’t expecting our coach to retire last year, but the experience for our team was very positive. We were all very excited when we heard who our coach was going to be and even more exited when she brought on all the assistants. And overall, our coaches are incredible. They get along so well together, and we get along so well with them, and that’s really cool.
When did you start playing soccer?
I’ve been playing ever since I remember. When I was little there was always a rec team that I was on, and I actually played at first as a field player. But even that first season when I was 10 or 11, my coaches put me in goal, probably because of the height factor. But I thought it was (a) really fun, pretty cool position being in goal, diving and using your hands.
Lastly, what are some expectations you have for the team so far given this strong start?
Obviously we want to continue with the positive aspects of our play so far: working on keeping shootouts, scoring goals. Our main goal is to win the Ivy League so we want to just stay on track and tweak the things that aren’t going as well for us. When you get into Ivy League play, it’s a totally different energy, and each game is really important. We’re focusing on getting better in all our non-conference games, and that’s really important for us to prepare for our Ivy League games.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.