It takes a special mindset to be a goalkeeper in soccer. Not only does the keeper have to prevent the other team from scoring, often at close range, but a keeper also is in charge of setting and organizing the defense.
According to Academic Magnet girls coach Anna Merriman, one of the major reasons for her team’s success over the last three seasons has been the play of senior keeper Emily Gossen.
Gossen started in goal as a freshman but injured her knee early in the season. She returned in goal as a sophomore and has established herself as one of the top keepers in the state. In fact, Gossen was one of 18 players in the state selected to play in the Clash of the Carolinas all-star game in July.
Gossen allowed 23 goals and posted 13 shutouts in her sophomore season, helping lead the Raptors to the Lower State finals while earning All-State honors.
Last season, Academic Magnet won the Class AA state championship, with Gossen allowing just 19 goals and recording 13 shutouts. She made 10 saves in the state title game, again earning All-State honors.
This season, Gossen has proven to be one of the very best, allowing only five goals with 14 shutouts in Academic Magnet’s 15-3 season.
As good as Gossen is in goal from a physical aspect, Merriman says it is her leadership and intelligence that sets her apart.
“She is an awesome leader with a very strong competitive fire,” says Merriman. “She brings a high level of intensity to every practice and every game and is able to make every player on this team practice and play hard.
“She is like a player-coach for us. She is so smart about the game and sees everything on the field. She does a great job of organizing the back and making sure everyone is in position to be successful. Our defense is outstanding. They don’t let a lot of shots get through, but when shots do get through, it’s nice to have Emily back there.”
Gossen has been a keeper since she was about 10 years old and has grown to enjoy the challenges of the position.
“I love being able to dive around and be active in helping the defense,” she said. “Some people don’t like the thought of people taking shots at them, but I love the challenge of being a keeper. I guess I was just cut out for being a keeper.”
Gossen has signed a scholarship with Georgia Southern and will be one of 12 incoming freshmen to the program this fall. While she eagerly anticipates her move to the next level, she is trying to enjoy her final season of high school soccer.
Academic Magnet is the favorite to repeat as the Class AA state champion.
“We will settle for nothing less than another state title, and that’s my focus right now,” said Gossen. “We have a great team and we have a great chance to repeat. We have eight seniors. We all want to go out on top.”