Soccer Season Preview: The Goalkeepers
BATON ROUGE – Megan Kinneman’s re-emergence as the team’s defensive leader a year ago certainly propelled the Tigers during the 2012 season as she regained her freshman form and staked her claim as one of the elite goalkeepers in the Southeastern Conference once again.
Kinneman made an immediate impact on the program while starting each of LSU’s final 14 matches during her freshman season in 2010 while posting a school single-season record with a 0.66 goals against average and conceding just 10 goals as a rookie. After making only three starts in five appearances as a sophomore in 2011, Kinneman regained her starting role last year and started all 21 matches between the posts as a true team leader.
While playing 2,028 minutes in goal for the Tigers and finishing the season with a 1.20 goals against average, Kinneman set a single-season career high with 117 saves to rank No. 2 among SEC goalkeepers in 2012.
Kinneman even earned her share of recognition on the offensive end of the field as a leading penalty-kick taker for the Tigers a year ago as she converted each of her two attempts from the penalty spot for two goals on the season. She netted the team’s lone goal in a narrow 2-1 home defeat to the 18th-ranked Kentucky Wildcats before scoring the game-winning Golden Goal in a 3-2 come-from-behind overtime victory on the road against the Ole Miss Rebels.
A native of Missouri City, Texas, Kinneman is rounding back into form after sitting out a 2013 spring season while nursing a shoulder injury suffered at the end of her junior season.
“I love Megan Kinneman, that’s what we can start with,” said LSU’s head coach Brian Lee during Tuesday’s media day festivities. “What a wonderful kid who is as hard a worker and as quality a goalkeeper as there is in the SEC. We’re hoping for big things for Megan this year. I know the quality of her play is going to be outstanding. It’s just a matter of how many goals do we allow if she gets the kind of individual attention that I would think she deserves, and that’s up to the whole team to defend together.
“In terms of leadership, personality, ability and work ethic, she is everything you’d ever want in a player. I also think post-graduation, she’s going to be a pro and then she’s going to be a highly successful coach herself, if she chooses that route.”
Those competing for the spot as Kinneman’s deputy in goal this fall will be first-year sophomore Catalina Rubiano and redshirt freshman Morgan Ruhl as the Tigers are blessed with a trio of talented goalkeepers on this year’s squad.
Like Kinneman, Ruhl joined the LSU program as a national recruit as she also earned her reputation as a TopDrawerSoccer.com Top 100 recruit nationally in the Class of 2012.
As a senior at The McDonogh School in Hereford, Md., Ruhl finished the 2012 season as the No. 93-ranked prep prospect in the United States and the No. 11-ranked goalkeeper recruit for her graduating class. She has earned experience at the highest levels of youth soccer in the United States, including a stint with the Under-15 U.S. Women’s National Team in 2009.
On the strength of Kinneman’s performance as the team’s defensive leader, Ruhl was a redshirt candidate in her debut season with the Tigers a year ago.
A product of St. Mary’s Dominican High School in New Orleans, Rubiano has joined the LSU program as a sophomore following academic stints at both the University of Hawaii and University of New Orleans prior to her arrival in Baton Rouge. She guided her high school squad to a Louisiana state championship at the Division I level during her senior season in 2011.
“We’re fortunate to have three goalkeepers of this quality to help anchor our defense in the 2012 season,” Lee said. “That kind of competition is only going to make our defense better as we compete for an SEC championship again this fall. You must have that kind of depth to make a run in this league, and we certainly feel like we have that in goal.”