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Freshman goalkeeper provides spark for women’s soccer

Freshman goalkeeper, Vic Graham, has started three games this year for the Wildcats going 2-0-1. Photo courtesy of Chico Wildcats.

Chico State women’s soccer had an impressive 13 game unbeaten streak to start the season, the longest such streak in program history. The streak couldn’t have been accomplished without the help of an unlikely source. That unlikely source is freshman goalkeeper, Victoria “Vic” Graham.

Graham has started three games for Chico State this year going 2-0-1. Her first start was a tie against Colorado School of Mines.

“Coming in here, I kind of knew the coach wanted me to play at least a little bit this season,” Graham said. “Knowing that I’m a freshman, it’s kind of a big deal for me to start.”

It was a big deal for Graham, especially in her first start.

“Because I’m from Colorado, playing against a team from Colorado was huge for me,” Graham said.

Sometimes it’s a mystery as to why an athlete chooses a college, but in Graham’s case it was a choice made years before.

“I committed the end of my Sophomore year and the coaches really wanted me and really liked how I played,” Graham said. “I love the campus, I fell in love with the team’s atmosphere, so it was a really good decision for me personally.”

Early success from Graham indicates that it was a good decision by coach Kim Sutton and her staff as well.

“She’s an excellent goalkeeper and very very good,” Sutton said. “She actually has a better voice than Brenna (Meier), there is a few things that they are different in, I wouldn’t say one’s better than the other.”

Having two good goalkeepers is a problem most teams would like to have. The normal starting goalkeeper is Brenna Meier, who in her senior year is getting the bulk of the action while Graham watches and learns.

Graham would get more playing time after her seven save performance against Colorado School of Mines.

“The coaches said, ‘we haven’t picked a starter yet, you’re still going to get some playing time’ ” Graham said. “I was expecting not to play as much which is fine.”

She would play though, in two more games. The first was against Cal State Dominguez Hills, where she registered eight saves on nine shots on goal, the second game was against Cal State East Bay, where she made nine saves on ten shots on goal.

Allowing two goals in three games is good, especially if your team wins both the games those goals were allowed.

Graham may be a freshman, but she is also the tallest player on the team with a listed height of 5-feet-10-inches.

“It’s kind of nice, especially being goalie, being one of the taller ones,” Graham said. “I get asked if I play basketball or volleyball just because they’re taller.”

Graham coincidentally did play a few years of basketball in high school, along with soccer.

Being a freshman, Graham would have to transition to a more difficult level of play. At first this transition from high school soccer to the college game was difficult for Graham.

“It’s a lot more difficult and different than what it is in high school and in club seasons, but I like it, I enjoy it,” Graham said. “It’s a lot more competitive and there’s a lot more that the coaches expect from you and that you need to do, but it’s a good experience.”

Graham, like the rest of her team, wants a championship this year, which means keeping up the hard work and to continue winning.

“We work really hard in training’s and one of our motto’s is ‘get one percent better everyday,’” Graham said. “So, no matter what it is just make sure we are getting one percent better individually and as a team. So, we are really working for that banner.”

As Chico State continues on their historic push for a championship, everyone is playing a role, even the backup freshman goalkeeper from Colorado.

Andrew Baumgartner can be reached at [email protected] or @abaum94 on Twitter.

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