By Matt Bradshaw–
Every sports year, a handful of athletes on college campuses will be known locally and nationally. While stars drive the big picture, under-the-radar players are what make good teams into great teams. Over the next few weeks, The Cardinal will unmask some of U of L’s unknown heroes in each of the fall sports.
Women’s soccer: Goalkeeper Taylor Bucklin
Bucklin did not waste much time showcasing her abilities in her college career. She attended the University of Michigan for her first two years and began to contribute immediately. Bucklin started 23 games at goalie and collected 79 saves her freshman year. Additionally, she earned multiple Big Ten Player of the Week awards.
Bucklin set numerous records at Michigan, including the program’s single-season (.048) and career (0.64) records in goals-against average. The Connecticut native holds single-season records in wins (18), shutouts (12) and save percentage (.878). She ended her career with the Wolverines at 19-6-0 as goalkeeper.
Entering U of L in 2015 as a decorated player, Bucklin once again proved herself capable of committing to goalkeeper. In her first seven starts of the season, she faced 82 shots and made 35 saves, cementing her role as a stout goalkeeper.
Goalie is arguably the most important position in soccer due to the high stakes. The greatness of a keeper is truly exhibited when they can come through under the pressure. Bucklin proved she can stay cool at the highest level in Louisville’s historic upset versus No. 1 ranked North Carolina last October.
Although Louisville only had six shots the entire game, Bucklin managed to keep the team on its feet through all 30 of North Carolina’s shots. It allowed the Cardinals to pull through against a lethal UNC attack, winning off of a penalty kick in overtime.
Bucklin continued her hot streak after the win, helping to fend off Duke in a 0-0 draw. Against UNC and Duke, Bucklin had 18 saves on 54 shots, allowing only one goal in 210 minutes. That October, ESPN tabbed Bucklin as Soccer Player of the Week.
At the year’s end, Bucklin’s record of 6-6-1 included 74 saves and a .98 goals-against average. U of L finished the year with a 8-8-2 record, only totaling two wins in the final six matches. 2016 is a big year for the Cardinals as they look to breakthrough in the tough ACC.
Bucklin is definitely a name to look out for this upcoming year. Fans can catch her and the rest of the Cards in their home exhibition against Morehead State on Aug. 13. The start time is set for 7 p.m. The regular season-opener is on Aug. 21 versus Indiana State.
File Photo / The Louisville Cardinal