For those who aren’t too familiar with soccer, they may have been surprised to find out who Dalhousie University’s women’s soccer team’s Most Valuable Player was last season.
It wasn’t rookie sensation Kate Fines or a flashy offensive player. It was fourth-year defender Taylor Goodwin. A player that’s hard to recognize as an extremely talented player due to the non-flashy nature of her position.
“I think the good ones [defenders] are underappreciated,” says women’s soccer head coach Cindy Tye. “She lends herself to that position, she gets in there and does her job well and she doesn’t mind who gets the credit or whatever, she is team-first.”
But Goodwin doesn’t see herself as an underappreciated player to the team and believes that everyone’s role on the team is important.
“We’re all important in our own way,” says Goodwin.
Unlike keepers that make diving saves, or offensive midfielders and strikers that score goals, defenders are a lot less noticeable and blend into the game. Their job isn’t flashy, they rarely score points and it’s not their job to make diving saves. Their job is preventing the attacking players from gaining good offensive position and scoring. The position demands a high knowledge of soccer in order to read and predict the play and to force the attacking players to less dangerous spots. It also requires athleticism and to run and keep up with speedy attackers.
Goodwin possesses all of these traits; she rarely gets beat and is a steady force in the backfield. Her presence is one of the reasons Dal gave up less than one goal per game last year. Her play got the attention of the league, naming her a First-Team All-Star – the first All-Star award of her university career.
“It was a humbling experience to be honoured with that title,” says Goodwin.
Tye says what makes Goodwin such a good defender is she is great at reading the play, she thinks the game one step ahead of the action and has good timing on when she decides to attack for the ball, she’s also remarkably consistent.
Goodwin wasn’t always a defender. She was used to having an attacking role in soccer. She switched to defence at 14-years-old because a coach believed her knowledge of the game would be better situated defensively.
Shortly after, she met and was coached by Tye. Goodwin credits Tye with shaping her as a defender. That relationship has stayed strong. Eight years later and Goodwin calls Tye one of her, “biggest role models.”
“I feel I’m very fortunate to have someone who has literally been with me since I was young and started from the bottom to now; where I am in my last year of playing,” says Goodwin.
Now in her fifth year, Goodwin has taken on a leadership role. She is one of three team captains along with Stephanie Dyck and Rachelle Lalande. Goodwin has never been a captain before, but she feels she is ready for the role.
Goodwin’s goal for her final season is to lead the women’s soccer team to its first AUS title since 2012. They finished in third place last year and have a majority of the players returning to this team. The AUS championship is a realistic goal. “I know we have that ability and we can do it.”