Several of the 11 true freshmen on this season’s IU roster have contributed significantly to the team’s resurgence on the field, but one freshman in particular has stood out.
Freshman goalkeeper Sarah L’Hommedieu has starred in net for the Hoosiers this season and started 16 of the team’s 17 matches. In total, L’Hommedieu has been in goal for more than 1,500 minutes this season for IU.
She has credited this high amount of playing time with helping her adjust to her first season playing college soccer.
“Obviously, as a freshman, you are not used to playing with some of the people that you have in front of you,” L’Hommedieu said. “Getting to know the way that people play, their strengths and how I can fit into that equation helps me become more comfortable playing with them.”
L’Hommedieu’s confidence has grown as the season has progressed, and it did not take her long to make an impression. In IU’s first win of the year at Butler, L’Hommedieu recorded a career-high eight saves for her first career shutout.
L’Hommedieu has reached the eight-save mark on two other occasions this season, but the initial performance against the Bulldogs signaled to her she was ready to be the starter.
“The Butler game was our defensive breakthrough,” L’Hommedieu said. “We discovered that we are really good as a group back there.”
Just two days after the Butler match, the Hudson, Ohio, native shut out Northern Colorado, 3-0, at Bill Armstrong Stadium. The weekend display earned L’Hommedieu two weekly honors from the Big Ten as the conference’s Defensive Player of the Week and Freshman Player of the Week.
The Freshman Player of the Week award was given to L’Homemdieu for a second time Oct. 11 after she made a combined 15 saves against No. 16 Penn State and Rutgers.
The Hoosiers were able to claim a point apiece from their matches against the Nittany Lions and Scarlet Knights, two teams that made the Final Four of last season’s NCAA Tournament. L’Hommedieu playing a significant role in both games.
“The coaching staff and the rest of the team has full confidence in Sarah,” IU Coach Amy Berbary said. “You can just see her getting better every week. She trains so hard, and I give a lot of credit to my assistant Sergio Gonzalez. He is always pushing her and has helped get her to where she is.”
Gonzalez is praised by not only Berbary but also L’Hommedieu when it comes to his affect on her play this season. Gonzalez was a big factor in L’Hommedieu’s decision to enroll at IU a semester early in spring 2016.
L’Hommedieu said she was very skeptical about arriving on campus early and forgoing the final part of her senior year of high school but placed a great deal of trust in Gonzalez.
“I talked to Sergio a lot, and he has a record of training excellent goalkeepers,” L’Hommedieu said. “I thought that if he thought I needed to come early, that’s what I had to do. It’s about trusting the coaches, and obviously it’s paid off for me, like he said it would.”
L’Hommedieu’s 79 saves this season lead all Big Ten goalies and has her tied for the 37th-most saves nationally. Her 0.775 save percentage lags behind the majority of conference goalkeepers but is largely a product of the high number of shots she has faced this season.
However, like her fellow freshmen, she tries to focus on the future and approach every day the right way instead of dwelling on stats or past results.
“Every day is a new joy for us freshmen,” L’Hommedieu said. “We are just happy to be playing for IU and happy to be representing our school.”
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