The UW’s Women’s Soccer Team has a new starting goalkeeper this season, and she is a rookie. Natalie Mouradian is in her first year studying recreation and sports business, and has been playing soccer since she was a little girl. However, as Mouradian explained, being a first year and starting as a rookie goalkeeper can be a nerve racking experience.
Neil Wilson, the head coach of the team, talked about how goalkeepers don’t usually peak until later but Mouradian is starting young.“It doesn’t matter if you’re a rookie goalkeeper, what matters is if you’re good enough to play,” he said. He mentioned that Mouradian is not a regular rookie player and that she has confidence and tools that are well beyond her years.
Mouradian explained how the captains and coaches on the team made the whole process very easy and welcoming, and has grown to love her position as a goalkeeper. “I had a very smooth recruiting process, however, I was quite nervous,” she said. Mouradian enjoys being able to see the whole game in front of her, which makes it easier to pinpoint things that are going right and wrong, and likes shot stopping. .
Mouradian’s recruiting process started when she was approached by the previous head coach of UW’s Women’s Soccer Team after one of her games between her team Cambridge and Waterloo, a big game because of the longstanding rivalry between the teams. “I ended up starting the game in net and kept a clean sheet. Then, in the second half of the game I played as a striker and scored one of the opening goals,” she said. Mouradian’s team won that game, after which the head coach came out to a few more of her games before making her an offer as the first recruit of the season. “The process was smooth because in other cases the athlete usually reaches out to coaches, which is what I did for other schools but Waterloo came to me,” she said.
Having a supportive team can help any athlete get to where they want to be, and Mouradian says her team has been nothing short of amazing when it comes to supporting her new position. She mentioned how the new head coach Neil Wilson and assistant coaches Vita Mckenna and Melanie Jimenez have helped to ease the transition. Mouradian talked about how Wilson did a great job planning the training camp with the little time he had. “Wilson did a great job at making me feel welcomed and I am sure all the other rookies can agree with that too,” she said.
Mouradian also praised the practices, stating that they are “well-thought-out which contributes a lot to the team’s success.” The practices include video sessions that pinpoint the team’s strengths and weaknesses. She mentioned how the head goalkeeper coach Michael Neptune and assistant coach Morgan Berg have both helped her a lot with her position and are the reason she is improving every game. “I couldn’t ask for a better coaching staff. I don’t think I would be seeing the success that I’m seeing if it wasn’t for them and the training they have been giving me,” she said.
Wilson mentioned how the previous head coach John O’Brien saw the potential Mouradian had when she played in the prospect camp. “She did an amazing job at the recruit camp and was recruited shortly after,” he said. Neil talks about how Mourasdian shows maturity and leadership and he really couldn’t ask for more from her. He talked about how it’s not easy for first years to be confident when they are playing with older players.” Neil explained that Mouradian is open-minded and has a growth mindset. “Natalie is receptive to her feedback and is constantly using it to improve,” he said.
“I appreciate the leadership role I have, and have been adjusting well to my school and soccer life,” Mouradian said. She talked about how being in the recreation and sports business program has made it easy to balance school and soccer life. Mouradian explained the importance of organizational skills in university and in sports, stating that “[it] is something that is necessary to not fall behind in school and outside of school.