3 questions with CU goalie Paige Soenksen
What's your favorite pregame music? "For any game, I have an iPod Touch that I have not updated since middle school or freshman year of high school and it is ridiculously cracked, so whatever music I have on that as a freshman in high school is what I still listen to now. So there's quite a bit of Eminem, some ACDC and some really hard rock that my brother, I'm sure, got me into back in the day."
What's your favorite postgame meal? "I just eat pizza or pasta, mainly pasta of any sort. I love pasta."
What's something you like to do off the field? "Something a lot of people don't know about me is that I was in band from fourth grade up until my senior year of high school, and when I go home for breaks I still play the saxophone, so that's kind of a random thing."
In Colorado lacrosse's short three years as a program, the Buffaloes have seen a fair amount of success with a 22-15 record in their first two years and two consecutive bids to the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament.
A lot of that success has come thanks to CU's stellar defense, with junior goalie Paige Soenksen at the helm.
"I think Paige has been great," head coach Ann Elliott said. "I think every time I've been asked about her, I say she's consistent. I think she truly is consistent whether it's in practice or in games, which is great for us especially when you're young, because a thing of youth when you're building a program is definitely not consistency, and it's a focus for us."
This year, the Buffs are off to their best start in program history with a 5-1 record heading into Monday's home game against Marist (3 p.m., Kittredge Field), with their only loss coming against then-No.7 Notre Dame. All season long, Soenksen, along with the defense, has been the driving force for Colorado's good fortune.
"We had a pretty successful start to our season," Soenksen said. "We've had these two weeks of a break here so we're really focusing on ourselves and getting more mentally prepared for what's coming next because we're heading into a really long stretch of a lot of games."
This year alone, Soenksen boasts a record of 40 saves and 53 goals allowed, 28 of which came during two high-scoring games, including the team's loss at Notre Dame.
And though the numbers may be deceiving, one thing is certain: The team likely would not be seeing this prosperity without its four-woman-strong goalie corps, led by the junior from Encinitas, Calif.
For Elliott, the depth of perhaps the most difficult position in lacrosse gives her comfort in her team's ability to get the job done on the field.
"I think it's extremely important (to have strong goalies)," Elliott said. "It's such a unique position, where a lot of times as a backup you don't get as many opportunities as you would like. But at any moment, one thing happens and you're one person away from playing."
Because of Soenksen's sustained achievements in the net, junior goalie Sophia Gambitsky said she decided to redshirt this year to preserve some playing time for herself once the star goalie graduates. After all, you don't mess with success.
"Paige is such a rock for us," Gambitsky said. "I just feel really fortunate to be on a team with her. We just really always push each other, and I'm really grateful to have a consistent goalie like that to always keep me grounded and keep me working hard, because I think it's easy to be complacent."
Should Soenksen need backup this year, Elliott knows she can also rely on sophomore Annee O'Connor and freshman Julia Lisella to step up to the challenge.
As a freshman, Soenksen led the MPSF and ranked second in the nation in saves, saves percentage and saves per game, earning her the All-MPSF Rookie of the Year honor, among five other accolades.
"That came as a bit of a shock," Soenksen said. "No, I just went in every day and just played my hardest and played my best, and what came of it came of it, which was very, very surprising to me."
The year after, she earned eight more awards, including MPSF Defensive Player of the Week four times, the All-MPSF first team and the MPSF All-Tournament team.
For Soenksen, her success all boils down to what's going on inside her game during every defensive stance.
"As a goalie, especially, you need to realize that there's a lot of people in front of you when the ball gets by," she said. "There's kind of, not like a saying among goalies, but kind of the idea of just forget about it and think about the next one. So if they keep scoring just forget about it and get the next one. Have a quick memory and just forget."
Alissa Noe: firstname.lastname@example.org