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NO SPOTLIGHT, JUST SACRIFICE
"We're the eyes and the ears of the whole team because the whole game is in front of us."
ECU Soccer Field, 3:30 p.m.
As Cordero's unofficial practice continues, the rest of the team makes its way to the field. They split into squads for a practice scrimmage, with half the girls wearing yellow vests to mark themselves as the opposing team.
Cordero and Ally Glover, the team's other goalkeeper, begin by working with assistant coach Allison Lipsher.
Cordero and Glover spend up to half their practice time with Lipsher, performing drills that simulate game situations requiring them to dive, sprint out for crosses, and make reaction saves. At today's practice they begin by tossing the ball back and forth to practice various kinds of catches. Cordero and Glover also practice controlling and gripping the ball.
"Too much of a snatch," Lipsher admonishes Cordero as she prepares to roll the ball again. "Here we go."
Most of the skills Cordero displays on the field result from hours of practice when no one was looking. There's no time to think when the ball's zipping at her during a game. If she doesn't react instantly, she's more likely to give up a goal.
"The game is where they can't be thinking about technique anymore," Donnenwirth says. "If you start thinking about technique when you're a goalkeeper, you're probably going to give up a lot of goals. That stuff has to be muscle-memory, it has to become automatic and more reflex-type saves. But you want your relax saves to have good technique. Otherwise, you're going to give up goals; you're probably going to get injured."
Following practice, the team remains in their locker room in the Olympic Sports Building watching film footage of their next opponent, Old Dominion University.
ECU Soccer Field, 7 p.m.
At ECU's first home game of the season in late August, the Pirates face Old Dominion, a team they defeated last year by 4-1. ODU is coming off a season-opening home victory over N.C. State. Meanwhile, ECU lost its first game, 2-1, in overtime to Campbell University.
This time, the Pirates play so well against ODU that Cordero has only a few chances to defend goal. ODU gets to take only three shots on the goal. Cordero stops all three.
Confidence is the key to goalkeeping, she says. "We're the eyes and the ears of the whole team because the whole game is in front of us," she says. "So if we're certain that we know what we're doing, then everyone will have that mentality."
The drizzle that started in the first half gets worse as the game progresses, but Cordero shrugs it off. "It rained so many times during preseason training, so we would use it as an opportunity to work on all the things that usually scare goalkeepers in the rain—the awkward, slipping shots and knowing when to hold on to a ball versus deflecting it," Cordero says.
In the 70th minute of the game, freshman Kendall Frey scores ECU's game-clinching goal, which also is the first goal of her collegiate career. Cordero briefly applauds, then hollers at her teammates to get back into position.
After the win, Cordero describes the game as a mental test. "I had to stay tuned in and be ready for anything, while also helping my defenders out by being their eyes and ears," she says. "I was really proud of all my defenders.…We've been emphasizing communicating and working together as a defensive unit…and it turned out to be really effective, which helped limit ODU's chances."
After the game, the team walks to the middle of the field to respond to their cheering fans. They wave and smile and Cordero blows a kiss at the crowd before turning to join her teammates on the walk back to the locker room. She needs to hurry home to get ready for classes tomorrow.
She's feeling good. This was the first home game she'd helped win during the last year of her college career.