Wright State University.

Women’s Soccer: Goalkeeping battle takes center stage

Justin Boggs, Sports Editor

Wright State started its exhibition schedule Friday with more questions than answers. One of the biggest unanswered questions this preseason is who will start between the pipes for WSU.

WSU goalkeeper Halle Pyle allowed four goals in 70 minutes of action Friday in a 4-0 loss to Northern Kentucky at Alumni Field. NKU called off the dogs by the time goalkeeper Kelsey Deal entered the game with 20 minutes remaining.

Pyle and Deal, both local juniors, are vying to replace All-Conference goalkeeper Brooke McCurdy who graduated over the offseason.

Friday’s match was the first of three exhibitions where the duo can prove to WSU head coach Pat Ferguson they can start at the collegiate level.

“They are going to have to fill a big hole with the departure of Brooke McCurdy,” Ferguson said. “I think that is going to be a big decision on who will step in.”

After starting her collegiate career at Louisville, Pyle transferred to WSU for her sophomore season and sat behind McCurdy on the club’s depth chart last year.

NKU kept junior WSU GK Halle Pyle busy with six shots on goal in WSU's 4-0 loss to the Norse.

NKU kept junior WSU GK Halle Pyle busy with six shots on goal in WSU’s 4-0 loss to the Norse.

“We have big shoes to fill,” Pyle said. Pyle is a 2012 Centerville High School graduate. “I can’t let my guard down on anything since we are both battling for the same position and just have to be confident. Mistakes are going to happen but when mistakes do happen, have to let them go and learn from them.”

Deal, a 2012 Piqua High School graduate, has been in a similar situation at WSU the last two seasons.

“We have a great friendship so it helps us get through the practices,” Deal said. “We push each other twice as hard. At our position, it is neck and neck but the best part is we are helping each other and we’re pushing each other. I think like she said, we have big shoes to fill and we need to be what Brooke McCurdy was.”

While some coaches at the collegiate level like to split up goalkeeping duties, Ferguson said he wants to stick with one goalie.

“If we have a goalkeeper who is doing the job, she is going to stay in the goal until she is not doing the job,” Ferguson said. “We really won’t platoon so it will make it difficult for the two of them as they battle for that position.”

Despite being upperclassmen, both Pyle and Deal are inexperienced at the college level. The two have not played more than 90 minutes in their entire collegiate careers.

They have been working with former Bowling Green goalkeeper and WSU assistant Becca Ison on technical aspects of the game.

WSU junior Kelsey Deal played 20 minutes and had a quiet night between the pipes as she vies for a spot in WSU's starting lineup.

WSU junior Kelsey Deal played 20 minutes and had a quiet night between the pipes as she vies for a spot in WSU’s starting lineup.

Pyle made two saves early in Friday’s contest but struggled to close out the first half. NKU got on the board in the 28th minute from a shot from the corner of the box.

NKU took a 2-0 lead in the 35th minute with a shot from 25 yards that bounced off the far post. The Norse nearly took a 3-0 lead to close out the first on a shot that fired off the post.

NKU made it a 3-0 game off freshman Marcy Hamblin’s floater over Pyle. She added her second goal of the contest 11 minutes later to give NKU a 4-0 advantage.

WSU struggled offensively to generate chances and only took five shots compared to 14 for NKU.

While Ferguson did not get a good look at Deal’s potential Friday, he said Pyle had some good moments despite allowing four goals.

“Halle did some things that were really good and then the next minute, she was like, what are you doing?” Ferguson said. “Essentially in playing time, she is like a freshman. Those are the things we expect out of freshmen. They make a lot of youthful mistakes.”

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