Robbinsdale Armstrong goalkeeper Ana Aguado takes the mental aspect of netminding seriously but has no special pregame routine.
“I’m not superstitious,” Aguado said.
It works for her with 10 shutouts so far this fall for the Falcons’ girls’ soccer team. She doesn’t claim the credit, though.
“I can’t do it myself. I have 10 other people included in that shutout,” said Aguado, whose squad has a 11-2-2 record. “Goalies get the stat, but it should be [for] everyone.”
Aguado nonetheless has impressive stats with 0.59 goals allowed per game, 116 saves and a .935 save percentage. She said her on-field success starts in her focus, whether facing two shots or a season-high 16 against Minnetonka on Aug. 27.
“You have to be ‘head in the game’ the entire time,” Aguado said. “You’ll go home, and you just want to crash on the couch.”
Aguado, a junior, helped preserve a 0-0 tie against the Skippers. She made 14 saves in a 2-1 victory over No. 3-ranked Class 1A Totino-Grace on Sept. 8.
A starter since her freshman season, she has drawn interest from a number of NCAA Division I programs from Power Five conferences. Aguado announced this summer that she has verbally committed to Minnesota.
“I love the team, the philosophies that they have,” Aguado said.
She is the fourth Division I women’s soccer recruit from Armstrong in the past three years. The others, all graduated, are Mariah Haberle and Holly Enderle, both at North Dakota State, and Annie Wilcox at North Dakota.
The Falcons average 1.71 goals per game but it’s been improving since junior midfielder Julia Osborne took the lead offensively with eight goals and four assists.
“In that past, I haven’t really taken the initiative to score, especially with having those [previous] seniors as our main goal-scorers,” Osborne said. “I definitely am looking for more this year and taking more chances, which has definitely led to more of my opportunities and goals.”
Freshman midfielder Jessica Hanley, second on the team with three goals and six assists, put up most of her points since Sept. 13. Moreover, the Falcons spread around the ball with 10 players scoring goals thus far.
“Now, we can pass it between their defenders a lot easier, which gives us more scoring opportunities,” Hanley said.
Armstrong’s offense complements a stout defense, which looks completely different from 2015. Only sophomore defender Rainey Baker returned from last year’s defensive unit.
“It took a while to get used to each other, but now it’s just kind of we always know where we are even if we’re not talking,” Baker said.
Coupled with the on-field changes, new coach Natalie Jin took the job after Chris Adams vacated the position to fill the same role at Shakopee. Jin had familiarity with the program as a junior varsity coach in 2015, and she played for the Falcons’ last state tournament team in 2007.
This season Aguado and company hope to return to the Class 2A state tournament. The Falcons have lost to Hopkins in each of the past two section tournaments.
“That would be a hurdle we’d love to get over,” Aguado said.
A grueling Section 6 awaits, including No. 1 Wayzata (10-2-1) and No. 5 Minneapolis Washburn (12-1-1). Hopkins (8-4-1) also looks competitive.
“It’s just discipline in the end, who wants it bad enough,” Jin said.