The core of a good soccer team lies within its natural leaders and those players who have control over the organization of the squad as a whole. The obvious pick often is the goalkeeper. He’s the last line of defense, the general of the back line, and the fate of his team lies within every jump, dive, and fingertip save he makes. Fortunately for Linfield, Scott Goodman straps on his gloves every day and fills arguably the most vital position on the pitch.
A lot of goalkeepers don’t naturally fit into the position, and sometimes teams throw someone into goal as a last resort. More often than not, keepers don’t establish themselves until the high school level, after playing different positions on the field at younger ages.
Goodman is somewhat unique, in that he has been guarding the goal from almost from the beginning. “I started playing soccer when I was about five, and when I began at the club level in fifth grade I fully took on the role of goalkeeper,” he recalls.
While soccer has been his primary sport, Goodman has also participated in football as a kicker, as well as ice hockey and tennis. “My dad has always committed to any sport I wanted to play and has supported me no matter what,” Goodman says, calling his father, Terry, his main source of inspiration.
Considering his early experiences, it is not surprising Goodman is flourishing at the collegiate level. But due to the nature of the position, much of Goodman’s statistical performance is based on the strength of the team surrounding him. That noted, it’s difficult to find many highs in last season’s numbers, when the Linfield men won only a pair of games.
At first glance, not much jumps off the page to catch a reader’s eye in terms of impressive numbers. However, the players surrounding Goodman are the first to recognize that the skills he contributes that go unnoticed to the average fan are what holds the team together in many ways. “He’s a natural leader,” says teammate Danny Snelgrow, when asked what kind of motivational role Goodman brings to the table. “Having his maturity and experience makes it easy to believe in him and his ability to prevent goals.”
While Goodman’s strengths help the confidence of offensive players such as Snelgrow, positive feedback is reciprocated from the other side of the ball as well. Harper Taylor believes Goodman’s size and physical play are just a few aspects that give a sense of security to Linfield’s back line. “Scott talks a lot and gives good directions on marks,” he says.
Up to this point, Goodman has protected his 18-yard box with an authoritative presence.
The position does not come without extreme physical demands however, and Goodman has already had his toughness tested once this season. In the Wildcats’ recent match against Pacfic Lutheran, Goodman was injured while coming off his line to make a sliding tackle. “I jammed my finger against the ground, and it swelled up pretty quickly.” He did not play the following day and his status in the starting lineup is for now, day-to-day.
Goodman credits this season’s early success to several factors, perhaps most importantly the presence of first-year coach Chuck Bechtol. “He has been huge,” Goodman enthusiastically explains, appreciating the benefits of Bechtol’s no-nonsense approach. “Without him, we wouldn’t be where we are,” he adds, referring to the Wildcats’ markedly improved early-season record.
Bechtol, a former Wildcat from the class of 1992 who is fourth on the list of Linfield’s career scoring leaders, says of Goodman, “It really helps team morale when Scott makes a big save.”
According to Goodman, things are headed in the right direction. “Our ultimate goal moving forward is to win the Northwest Conference,” he says, “but I think it’s important to focus on improving every week for now and trying to finish in the top three in the short run.”
While it is by no means an overnight or immediate change to go from two victories to a conference championship, Goodman feels the team chemistry and overall work ethic will get Linfield back on the winning track. Goodman notes he and the defense are always on the same page in the playbook and that “we’re looking much better and more organized than ever.”
Bechtol is optimistic about Goodman’s steady development within the program in the coming months and into next season, saying, “Scott is going to continue to develop his technical ability and footwork, as well as his ability to read a game.”
A mass communications major, Goodman is on pace to graduate in the spring of 2014. “I want to go abroad after I graduate, and gain some life experience through working outside the United States,” he says.
While not entirely sure of the career path he may end up pursuing, Goodman is excited to enjoy his remaining semesters at Linfield and is willing to do everything in his power to keep the back of Linfield’s net empty.
-- Evan O'Kelly '13