Though young and inexperienced soccer teammates do not spare Legacy Christian goalkeeper Emily Kirby from facing a large number of shots, she does not take any at them.
Kirby entered this week stopping an average of 19.3 of the 21.6 shots she has faced during each of the Lions' first 10 games. Any goals she does allow make winning a challenge because the Lions (2-8) average a little more than one goal per game. They have been shut out four times.
"She probably has a right to yell sometimes but she doesn't," Lions coach Todd Manske said. "She's a warrior; she keeps going no matter what. She holds her head up high. Even if she sees 30 shots in a game, she looks at what she could have done better."
Kirby, a junior, spoke to Star Tribune reporter David La Vaque about keeping the team together even as the losses mount.
Q Talk about that tough loss to Bethany Academy last week. Your team led 1-0 but let it get away.
A We were winning most of the game. Cortney Thompson scored a great goal. But we have a young team and a lot of players who are new to soccer. One of them came in for another player who got tired, she didn't mark a Bethany player and they scored on a great cross.
The second goal I blame on myself. I didn't come out and play aggressive. It's really the only time I've been frustrated this whole season because I could have put more into it.
Q Did you get the sense going in that it would be a long season in terms of wins and losses?
A Yeah, I knew it would be. We weren't even sure how many players we'd have. And like I said, a lot of them are new to soccer. But so far it's been a lot of fun. We've grown together and we've built relationships with the younger girls. The older girls are trying to be good role models for them.
Q How do you do accomplish that goal?
A We were playing a shooting game in practice on a short field and my team won all three games. I was like, 'See, we can do well if we work together for a common goal.'
Q Are you judging this season on wins and losses or something bigger?
A First and foremost we're playing for God's glory. I've really noticed a huge difference in a lot of the girls. We're working together and sports brings out character. I think about something it says on a calendar my sister [and teammate] Rebekah got me for Christmas, 'The scoreboard never lies but it never tells the whole truth.'
Q What is the challenge of being a strong leader on a team that doesn't win much?
A I always say it's OK to offer a little helpful criticism. But I also cheer them on. When we're marking up to defend a corner kick I'll get them in close and say things like, 'You're doing great. Keep it up.' We usually are a team that works hard even though we're physically smaller than a lot of teams.
Q As young players improve and the team learns to compete at the varsity level -- could this team surprise in the playoffs?
A I think we can definitely do better against the rest of the teams in our conference and even win in the first round of sections. I think if we continue to connect and work hard, we could have a chance.