‘We feel great’: An interview with the women’s soccer goalkeeper ahead of the Sweet 16

| Senior Sports Editor

The Washington University women’s soccer team has once again dominated the regular season and made it to the NCAA tournament. Defense has been a key for the Bears, as 10 of their 15 wins on the season have been shutouts. Leading that effort is sophomore goalkeeper Sidney Conner, who has taken the reins of the WashU backfield, leading to her being named the University Athletic Association’s Sophomore Rookie of the Year with a 1st-team All-UAA nod to boot. Before the Bears travel to Iowa for their Sweet 16 matchup against the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Student Life caught up with Conner to discuss her first year of competition, her favorite team tradition, and the weekend ahead. 

This interview has been edited slightly for length and clarity

Student Life: To start off, how did you get into soccer?

Sidney Conner: Well, I’ve been playing since I was really little. It was just kind of this thing where I just would kind of pick a sport, so I did basketball, I did soccer, I did a bunch of other things. But I just really liked soccer, and all my friends were playing it. So I started in the third grade and I’ve just loved it ever since.

SL: Did you play those other sports in high school as well?

SC: Yeah, I played basketball in high school and middle school, so those were kind of my two sports. But I eventually ended up choosing soccer.

SL: What made you choose goalie of all positions?

SC: No one else did it, to be honest. I volunteered, so it kind of just took off from there. I really liked it, and I feel like there’s some similarities between basketball and soccer when playing goalie. 

SL: What position did you play in basketball?

SC: I was a point guard. 

SL: Ah, that makes sense then. A lot of people who don’t know a lot about soccer, they see the goalie and they think they’re just hanging out. What do you do besides just  stopping shots to help facilitate the defense?

SC: Yeah, a huge part of being a goalkeeper is knowing how to organize defense, especially on counter attacks. There are a lot of attackers running through our defense, so just telling people where to be and kind of helping them see because I see the whole field, I can help my defense with where to be. 

SL: And the defense has been fantastic this year, you’ve put together 10 shutouts on the season so far. What’s been working on that side of the ball?

SC: I think defensively obviously, we’ve been great, that’s been a huge part of our success, but also our midfield and our forwards have been doing a good job of finishing on opportunities that we get. And I think just as a team, we have really great chemistry and so it shows on the field.

SL: I’m curious about that chemistry because the freshmen and sophomores came in, then you had that weird quarantine year, and now you guys are playing again. What was that year like?

SC: Last year was definitely interesting. We weren’t able to play much; we played two scrimmages, but they weren’t really anything real, but we got to know each other. We were practicing, and I think it just helped us develop our chemistry off the field because we had more time to hang out with each other and get to know each other. So I think that was a great part.

SL: In talking with some of the other players on the team, they’ve mentioned that there are a lot of traditions the team partakes in. Given that this is the first real year playing, is there an early favorite tradition for you?

SC: Let me see, before every home game, we do this thing called “bear buddies,” where we all anonymously get each other gifts and put them in each other’s locker before the game. It kind of gets us all excited and happy to be with each other. So that’s my favorite. 

SL: That’s such a great pregame ritual. What’s the best gift you’ve given, and what’s the best you’ve gotten?

SC: So I know my bear buddy really likes tacos, so I got her a pair of silly socks with tacos on them. And then I think my favorite gift that I received… Honestly, my bear buddy brought me a lot of notes, and they’re really personal and just so nice to read, so that was something that made me really happy.

SL: What senior has had the best pregame speech?

SC: I have to say Jess Shapiro has had some of the greatest speeches. For our first game, she wrote a poem, it was like slam poetry, and she read it and it was amazing. She also wrote a rap, like a rap song, and it was amazing. She’s really creative and just really fun.

SL: That’s amazing. So the team has the Sweet 16 coming in just a few days. How do you feel going into the weekend?

SC: We feel great. I think we’re really prepared and we’ve been working so hard this year and obviously last year as well. We’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time, so we’re really excited.

SL: Has [head] coach Stephanie Gabbard had any words of wisdom this week?

SC: She said just be confident and where you guys are you’ve been working all year. I really agree with her on that. 

SL: So outside of soccer, what are you studying?

SC: I’m a psychology major, but that’s still subject to change and then I’m minoring in the business of sports. I’m kind of following in Kally Wendler’s footsteps in that way. 

SL: That’s a good person to follow!

SC: Yeah, she’s awesome. She’s one of my idols, actually, and she’s such a positive person to be around and to have around the team, so I wouldn’t want anyone else around.  

SL: She’s one of the most enthusiastic people to ever come to WashU. So in your very limited free time, what do you like to do?

SC: Well, I room with three other sophomores. So we like to watch movies. We have a projector,  so we project movies on our wall and that’s always a fun time. And then our favorite meal is Chipotle, so we always go grab some Chipotle, but just hanging out with the team members honestly is something I love to do in my free time.

SL: Is there a favorite movie you guys have watched this semester?

SC: We’re big Despicable Me enthusiasts. That may sound dumb, but we like it. 

SL: No, that’s not dumb! Are you Gru fans or Minion fans?

SC: Minion, for sure. 

SL: That’s the right answer. And finally, we’ve been asking this to everyone this semester: Would you rather adopt a child every time you hear “Bohemian Rhapsody,” or have fish for hands?

SC: Honestly fish for hands because Jess plays “Bohemian Rhapsody” all the time, so that’s just countless kids right there.

StudLife’s Athlete of the Week ‘Would You Rather Tracker?’: Bohemian Rhapsody: 3 – Fish: 1

See more of our recent athletes of the week:

VIDEO: Getting to know a women’s cross country transfer star as the Bears win their seventh straight conference title

How WU’s quarterback went from never playing in college to leading a team that’s 4-2

From pole vaulting to speaking Norwegian, Ariana Miles does it all

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