Adjusting her curly bun, Brittany Toth greets fellow goal keepers Anna Stewart and Mallory Taylor with a smile as she takes the turf for the second practice of the day. Despite a packed class schedule and a looming list of homework, the stress doesn’t disturb Toth’s calm.
But in the midst of all that work, she hadn’t had time to notice that she’d been named not only GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Women’s Defensive Player of the Week but also the NAIA National Women’s Soccer Defensive Player of Week.
When Mark Hiemenz, Head Coach, broke the news, she lost her cool, if just for a moment.
“It was a pretty cool feeling to know that I got both,” Toth said. “And It was pretty humbling to know that hard work paid off.”
Toth earned the titles after her first shutout of the season, and sixth career, in the Sept. 7 game against then-No. 2 Olivet Nazarene (Ill.).
“There’s times when the goal keeper is not going to be used as much, and there’s times when they’re going to be crucial to the game,” said Liz Ruiz, assistant coach. “They can change the momentum of the game as well, if they make a big save.”
But the titles aren’t just about the score at the end of the game. Those who win player of the week also serve as mentors to the younger players, as Toth does for underclassmen goalkeepers.
“With showing them the ropes, what I like to look at is showing them how to be a good person,” Toth said. “It’s, ‘How can you help in any way?’ It’s not really all about sports to me. It’s about how to be a good role model.”
The men’s team also has a hard-working goalkeeper serving as a role model for the team.
Alex Guyer was also named GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Men’s Defensive Player of the Week twice this season.
Chris Kranjc, head coach, said Guyer certainly is a leader. In 2012, Guyer ranked No. 15 in Division I in goals against per game.
“He’s been a rock for us, and we can count on him to make a big save,” Kranjc said. “It helps our confidence, and I think we can attribute some of our wins to him.”
The men’s soccer team is currently 7-1, despite facing tough competition.
“In the game against Concordia Oregon, he was absolutely phenomenal,” Kranjc said. “One of the saves he made… it was one of the best saves I’ve seen our goalkeepers make.”
While Ruiz and Kranjc may credit their goalies with a win, the players aren’t so quick to take credit.
Toth doesn’t remember the game against Olivet Nazarene for her shutout but instead for Megan Kruse’s game-winning goal scored in double-overtime.
“That has to be one of the coolest games I have ever been a part of in my 21 years of playing,” Toth said. “It was just an all-around team event, and I’ve never been so proud of the girls in my life.”
The team still laughs thinking about how Toth’s excitement-fueled sprint took her from the goal to the 60 yard box in five and a half seconds, as she raced to the team cheering.
So, while the level of commitment can be draining, the team supports each other through the successes and failures.
“It’s my second family here,” Toth said. “We’re really close.”
The level of talent on the men’s team also makes Kranjc optimistic that there will be several more GPAC players of the week on the team.
The men lost 3-1 Wed. night to Bellevue, and the women lost 1-0 to UNK.
Injuries go hand and hand with sports. Felicia Brazda takes a look at how injuries can affect athletes at Hastings College.
On Jan. 17, the HC men’s soccer team took another monumental step in the progression to establishing themselves as one of NAIA’s most elite soccer programs.
Coming off the heels of a record breaking 39- game winning streak and going to two straight NAIA national titles, senior Nate Polak became the first ever player from the GPAC conference to be drafted by a Major League Soccer program. [Read more...]