Soccer Season Preview: The Goalkeepers
The LSU Soccer team will kick off its 2014 season on Friday night when it plays host to the Troy Trojans with kickoff set for 7 p.m. CT at the LSU Soccer Stadium in Baton Rouge. As we look ahead to the start of a new season, LSUsports.net will preview each position in the squad to give Tiger fans a glimpse of what to expect when seeing the team in action. Part 4 of 4 of our “LSU Soccer Season Preview” series features the goalkeepers that will look to anchor LSU’s defensive unit in 2014.
BATON ROUGE – The 2013 season brought the end to one of the most prolific careers for a goalkeeper in the history of the LSU Soccer program as Megan Kinneman once again provided the defensive foundation for the Tigers with her performance between the posts. Kinneman wrapped up a four-year career as one of the SEC’s top keepers during her tenure in Baton Rouge.
Kinneman ended her time in Baton Rouge as LSU’s school-record holder with 284 saves, while also ranking second in team history with 17 clean sheets to her credit in four seasons. Her 0.66 goals against average as a freshman in 2011 remains a single-season school record.
Not only that, but Kinneman even contributed on the offensive end of the field as she fired home each of her three penalty kicks attempted during her career, including the winner in a 3-2 overtime win over Ole Miss in 2012 and a 1-0 shutout of No. 13-ranked Southern California in 2013.
Kinneman now plies her trade at the professional level as a trialist with the Houston Dash of the National Women’s Soccer League with an eye on one day becoming a coach.
Erin McLeod, captain of the Houston Dash, recently said of Kinneman’s experience with the team, “My fellow reserve goalkeeper, Megan Kinneman, came from Louisiana State via open tryouts and consistently shows that although she may be small of stature, she is easily one of the fiercest goalkeepers I have ever trained with and to be quite frank, is one step away from breaking out as a superstar at this level.”
Those are big shoes to fill, but the Tigers will look to a pair of international goalkeepers to step into the starting role in place of Kinneman with Colombian international Catalina Rubiano returning for her second season in the program and New Zealand international and Class of 2014 recruit Lily Alfeld highlighting LSU’s No. 7-ranked recruiting class that has arrived on campus for preseason training.
Rubiano was called into action with the Colombian Women’s National Team for the first time in her career in the weeks leading up to the start of preseason training as part of the player pool in preparation for the 2014 South American Women’s Football Championship, or simply the Copa America, being held in Ecuador in September.
The two-week training camp in the Colombian capital of Bogota was Rubiano’s first experience competing at an international level as she returns to the squad after serving as a deputy to Kinneman in her debut season a year ago.
Alfeld, who hails from Christchurch, New Zealand, is certainly one of the world’s top goalkeeper prospects with her performance at the youth level while competing for New Zealand at FIFA Women’s World Cup at the U-17 and U-20 levels. In fact, Alfeld was her nation’s starting goalkeeper at the 2012 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Azerbaijan and 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Canada before her arrival in Baton Rouge.
Alfeld helped lead the Junior Football Ferns on a historic run to the quarterfinals of the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Canada this month as they became the first age group team in the history of New Zealand Football to advance to the knockout rounds of a FIFA tournament. She kept two clean sheets in a pair of group play wins and made 15 saves as one of the top goalkeepers of the tournament. After earning seven international caps with New Zealand’s U-17 squad, Alfeld has served as the starting goalkeeper for the Junior Football Ferns at the U-20 level in 2013 and 2014.
Among her other accolades was being named the “Player of the Match” in New Zealand’s first match against Mexico in group play at the 2012 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup when she made her World Cup debut.
Hereford, Maryland, native and former national Top 100 recruit Morgan Ruhl returns to the team this season, but will be forced to miss the entire 2014 season after undergoing preseason surgery to repair a hip injury that has plagued her for much of her collegiate career.