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Boulton blocks shots, makes huge saves for Wildcats

Carlos Islas

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Mackenzie Boulton gets physical blocking a tough shot during a scrimmage earlier this season. Photo courtesy of Chico Wildcats.

Playing goalkeeper is not as easy as it seems. It takes skill and a certain type of person to play in a position with so much importance. The Chico State women’s soccer team knows it can rely on first-year goalkeeper Mackenzie Boulton.

Boulton has been solid in between the sticks this season for the Wildcats. In the 13 games she has started, Boulton has 56 saves, six shutouts, a .800 save percentage and is ranked fourth among all goalkeepers in the CCAA conference.

In soccer, it’s said that playing goalkeeper takes someone a little crazy. After all, it does take someone special to want to stand there and have shots flying at them for 90 minutes. Boulton is not, by any means, crazy for playing goalkeeper, but she does have to do a job that not many other soccer players can do. Goalkeepers are not only responsible for making saves and stopping shots, they have to control and call out the game as it develops. They have to communicate with the back line and direct their defenders to stop the opponents.

“I think it’s a different mentality,” said Kim Sutton, head coach of the women’s soccer team. “It takes a special person to want to be in that role. Sometimes goalkeepers have outgoing personalities. I don’t know if I’ve ever had one that was quiet. They usually have pretty strong personalities.”

According to Boulton, she began playing goalkeeper for her club team early in her soccer career because she was the tallest and strongest player on the team. She originally played as a striker, but went back and forth between playing up front and as a goalkeeper. Around the age of 11, Boulton stopped playing goalkeeper but later returned to the position.

While attending Analy High School in Sebastopol, she earned four varsity letters and helped lead the team to a Sonoma County League title as a senior. During her high school soccer career, she was named to the First Team All-SCL team and Second Team All-Empire in 2014.

When she got back to playing goalkeeper at Chico State, Boulton had a hard time adjusting to the position. It had been a while since she last played goalkeeper and did not have the same skills as a consistent keeper.

“It was difficult,” Boulton said. “Because I switched at an older age, I didn’t have the basics and I had to catch up.”

Although she was not always interested in playing goalkeeper, Boulton’s interest in goalkeeping eventually grew and she found herself wanting to play more and more in the position.

“As I got older the competition got better and it made me get more into it,” Boulton said.

A a starting Wildcat goalkeeper, Boulton has only gotten better and has been one of the main players a key component pushing the 9-3-2 2015 women’s squad.

“They have to be fearless. It’s a unique position in terms of the different requirements with their hands,” Sutton said. “They have to have a presence and a strong voice in the back. Mackenzie fits all those things, she definitely has a presence, is very athletic, has a great voice back there and is commanding.”

Carlos Islas can be reached at [email protected] or @cIslasReports on Twitter.

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Boulton blocks shots, makes huge saves for Wildcats