In the past four years, goalkeeper Kathleen Early ‘14 has transformed herself from a freshman who admired her older teammates to the goalkeeper who inspires goalies across the league. For her final season with the Stags, Early has carried the team leading them to a 7-1 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference record, one of their most impressive seasons yet.

Freshman year, Early was introduced to a teammate who would change the way she portrayed herself as the goalkeeper of the women’s soccer team at Fairfield. Currently an assistant coach, Kelly Boudreau ‘12, the goalkeeper during Early’s freshman year, has helped Early become the successful athlete that she is today.

“I got the chance to watch [Boudreau] play her senior year and she was, obviously, an amazing goalie here at Fairfield,” said Early. “She has taught me everything I know here today so I definitely look up to her as my role model.”

Since then, Early has been one of the strongest members of the team. During her sophomore year, her first year of play with the team, she was named MAAC Player of the Week once and went on to stop 83 percent of the shots she had faced, ranking herself 64th in that category in the nation. Sophomore year, Early had five shutouts, the start of the legacy she continue to leaves on Fairfield.

Junior year, Early had an impressive nine shutouts, stopping nearly 82 percent of the shots she faced. Logging almost 2,000 minutes in the net during the season, the goalie posted a total of 58 saves for the team. Heading into her senior year, Early is ranked fifth in the program for career shutouts and first in the program for goals against average.

Currently, as the team approaches the end of MAAC play before Championships, Early has been named the MAAC Defensive Player of the Week twice and then went on to be named the Corvias Eastern College Athletic Conference Co-Defensive Player of the Week. She has racked in over 1,300 minutes in goal, making 50 saves for the team and winning 11 out of the 14 games she has played in. Currently, Early has six shutouts this season and is looking to improve in the upcoming weeks. During the last four years, Early has transformed from an observer to a leader on the field.

“I’ve focused a lot on my fitness. I’ve just tried to work hard throughout the past four years and I think some of it has paid off,” said Early.

Often referred to as the team mom because of the responsibility she has to take on the field as the goalkeeper, the senior needs to make sure her team reacts well to challenging situations, which Early added, is one of her favorite parts.

“I like to play under pressure and that’s definitely a very unique position,” said Early. “But I love being goalie because a lot of times you’re put under pressure and you have to come up big.”

Coming up big has been a simple task for Early, especially during her senior season. The Stags, who are currently placed second in the MAAC, have always had the same goal: the MAAC Championship. As the talented leader that Early has portrayed herself to be, the team will excel defensively and hopefully win the title they have waited for.

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