It takes a specialist with confidence and gifted hands to step up and operate with time running down to keep the numbers where they need to be.
People anxiously wait to see if Sam Houston State University’s goalkeeper Kylie Hambleton can repeat her 2012 season.
Entering her sophomore season, her coaches say Hambleton is not the typical soccer player.
Assistant coach Meredith Flaherty describes Hambleton more than a goalkeeper, but as an athlete. The raw power and speed they say Hambleton exhibits in every training session and game is just a few of the characteristics that set her apart from the rest.
“[Kylie] can do things that a lot of other players, even in this conference, can’t do,” she said.
Putting 1,458 minutes in 16 games during her first season, Hambleton only let 17 goals get past her while getting six shutouts. This season, Hambleton already has her first shutout and tied her career high of saves in a game with 12 in only three games.
“Over the past year, I’ve watched her develop from a younger player who wasn’t quite sure what her role was going to be on the team to being one of the best leaders on the team,” she said. “She’s vocal and with her playing ability, a lot of the players look to her to set the standard of what the performance levels are in games.”
Flaherty describes Hambleton as a leader who sets a positive example for others to follow.
Hambleton exerts her talent on the field and during training which makes an impact on the other players, including junior goalkeeper Magen Ross.
Ross explained Hambleton emanates motivation and determination working with herself and freshmen goal keepers Tara Cole and Carlyn Neubauer.
“With me and Kylie and the other two, when we’re always working, we’re always making each other better, making each other work harder and push to the next level to keep us all at the top of our game and improve,” Ross said.
Hambleton’s work ethic has caught the attention of more than just SHSU.
At the end of her freshman season with the Bearkats, Hambleton was named the Southland Conference “Soccer Freshman of the Year.” Two weeks into the regular season of her sophomore year, the SLC awarded her with “Goalkeeper of the Week.”
“It’s an honor to be picked for anything like that,” Hambleton said. “It’s an awesome feeling that the work you’ve done throughout the year has been noted.”
But Hambleton isn’t searching for her own personal gains this season, she said. She commits everything she does on and off the field to improving not only herself, but the team altogether.
“I bring confidence in the back to the table [and] I’m willing to step up and make big calls and decisions,” she said. “I don’t want to ever go down without a fight. And if we do that, [it] will lead us to exactly where we want to go.”