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As a young aspiring soccer player, the University of Portland's Goalkeeper, Kelsey Davis was not always minding the nets. "I used to play the field and the other girls kept knocking me over." Such repeated assaults left the young Davis in a constant state of knee scabs known among soccer afficiandos as "kneezles" (see wikipedia def.)
Davis called it quits on the field when a player going up for a header stomped the big toe of her left foot. "It was my bleeding planting foot" Davis explained with a sad nod.
"I decided then and there, the field was for the birds and I yearned for the safety of the nets. "You are protected on three sides by the net so if you keep everything in front of you. There are no surprises. "
"Well thats what I thought until I had my first face to face encounter with a runaway attacker, she opined. "Somehow my field players had been sucked up the field like there was a vortex at the other end, and this girl was dribbling at me at what seemed to be 60mph."
"There I stood frozen like a deer in the headlights until I heard my coach yelling from the sidelines to 'cut off the angle'. "Since I had no idea what an angle was at age 7 I sure didn't know what I was suppposed to 'cut off'' so I just dived for the ball and was promptly booted in the mouth jeopardizing some pricey new braces. Turns out the braces were sort of like a suburban grill and I got away with some sushi lips and a black eye. Of course the shooter was writhing in mock pain on the ground holding her head. "She kicked me with her foot not her head I puzzled." However, the well rehearsed display evoked deep sympathy from the referee.
As I heard the whistle I was sure the other girl would be called for a foul "after all I was standing still and she ran right into me on purpose!" Davis recalled. When the referee gave me the yellow card, muttering something about a 'clear goal scoring opportunity', it was my first realization that I was on my own out there for protection. I wondered "wasn't I supposed to stop 'clear goal scoring opportunities'?"
"This turn of events made me question my decision to leave the relatively equal treatment among field players being whisteled for fouls. I would eventually come to learn that that referees were totally ignorant of the 'laws of the game' that protect the goalkeeper." On the odd chance the referee calls a foul in your favor you get a free kick usually about 2 yards from your own goal line typically with one hand grasping a broken rib or stemming the flow of blood from where you just got kicked by a player trying to kick the ball out of your hands. "A freekin goal kick would be better" Davis gestured. In any other sport if someone standing up was kicking the snot out of a helpless person lying on the ground in the fetal position I think it would be frowned upon. But not in soccer.
"For a while I was discouraged until I realized that I had padded gloves for reasons other than merely catching the ball." At an early age Davis was introduced to the part of goalkeeping known as "boxing". "Its just what it sounds like" says Davis. "you get to punch out the ball and coincidentally anything near it with closed fists" Usually the thing near the ball is some prima donna striker's head. Since there is only one ball and I had two hands it became natural to box the ball and knock the 'glory boat' silly with a single motion. I am fond of the boxing technique."
"I also learned that you could get better elevation on jumps if you started your launch from the calf of a field player. "Most of the time it was someone on the other team. I always felt bad if it was my player. Anyway, I always thought that shin guards ought to go all the way around the leg. But hey! Im not FIFA ." You know what I mean? Davis shrugged.