When it came down to the top goalkeepers last week in the 16-under division of the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships in Overland Park, Kan., Maddie Davis had something extra.
Sure, she had the athleticism and skill necessary to help Lou Fusz 2003 Blue win the first national championship in the club's history. But Davis, who attends Gibault in Waterloo, has something more.
According to Fusz 2003 Blue coach Pat McVey, Davis is not just the last line of defense. She's also the team's first line of offense.
“Maddie is an excellent goalkeeper,” McVey said. “I always tell her she's the best goalie in the nation. Not only is she the best goalie, but she's also the last defender and the first attacker because we play through her every single time. You could throw her in a keep-away game and you could never tell she'd had a keeper's jersey on.”
Davis said the ability to use her feet to the team's benefit in starting possessions has come from plenty of hard work.
“When I go to practice I do all of the normal things (drills) that our field players do,” Davis said. “Rondos, small-sided games, passing patterns, I do them all with the team. This definitely allows me to feel more confident with my feet. When I was younger and started serious training as a goalie, my coaches pushed me out of my comfort level and made me use my feet more often. As I have become older and more experienced, it is just part of my game to use my feet when I need to use them.”
While she's quick on her feet, her traditional goalkeeping work has been solid.
After all, she earned the Golden Glove — the award for best goalkeeper in her age group at nationals.
It is an award that is voted upon by all the coaches in her age group.
“Words can't explain how excited I am about winning both the championship and the golden glove,” Davis said. “Every time that I think about that moment we won, I get chills. The team has put their blood, sweat and tears into this tournament. Everything that we done, MRL, national league, State Cup and regionals has been to prepare for this national championship tournament.”
In the championship tournament, Davis played every minute in goal and amassed a 3-0-2 record with one shutout. In the five games, she allowed six goals.
McVey said it was great going into a large-scale event and not having to worry about goalkeeping.
“She's loud and she's a leader, but she's also humble,” McVey said. “She's a great goalie but she's an even better kid. It makes it so easy on a coach when you don't have to worry about who is between the pipes. It's very easy to have a goalie like her.”
While the accolade of being named to the Best XI and earning the Golden Glove are special, Davis said that none of her success would have been possible without the hard work of each her her teammates in front of her.
She added that the special bond she shares with each girl on the team made everyone stronger and paved the way for a national championship.
“My team is my second family,” Davis said. “Being as close as we are makes things so much easier on the field. Trust is the biggest thing between my center backs, Emi Pope, Kelsey Kehoe, and I. They are the ones that play the ball back to my feet. I have to trust them that they are going to give me a good pass that I can settle and play out. In return, they have to trust that I am going to play them a good ball and that they don't have somebody right on their back. I could not imagine playing soccer with any other girls.”