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Sophomore goalkeeper Bradley ready to replace Kerestine in net

Sophomore goalkeeper Bradley ready to replace Kerestine in net

North Texas sophomore goalkeeper congratulates the players of Abilene Christian after a 3-1 Mean Green win on August 28th. Dylan Nadwodny

Sophomore goalkeeper Bradley ready to replace Kerestine in net
September 01
10:58 2016

It was November 6, 2015, and the Mean Green soccer team arrived in Lubbock ready to take on then-No. 18 Texas Tech University in the opening round of the NCAA soccer tournament.

While warming up for the school’s first NCAA tournament game since 2012, the starting goalkeeper, Jackie Kerestine, broke her fibula, abruptly ending her collegiate career and beginning sophomore Brooke Bradley’s.

Despite allowing only one goal in the contest, the Mean Green were eliminated 1-0. Ten months later, Bradley is being asked to replace the most accomplished goalie in North Texas history in Kerestine, who holds the school record for wins, saves, shutouts and minutes.

“I have to step into Jackie’s shoes,” Bradley said. “Those are big shoes to fill. She did great and I just hope that I’m able to do the same thing and be a leader for my team.”

And although she has only been the full-time starter for four games, Bradley has already proven to her former teammate she is capable of taking the reins.

“As far as filling my shoes, I think she’s doing really well,” Kerestine said. “She’s really vocal out there and had a good shutout streak going. As she keeps playing these games she’s only going to keep getting better.”

Head coach John Hedlund is another person impressed with Bradley’s performance. He said her impromptu debut against the Red Raiders last fall illustrated why she is poised to step into this new role.

North Texas sophomore goalkeeper Brooke Bradley (1) kicks a ball after an Abilene Christian foul during the game on August 28th. Dylan Nadwodny

North Texas sophomore goalkeeper Brooke Bradley (1) kicks a ball after an Abilene Christian foul during the game on August 28th. Dylan Nadwodny

“We saw a glimpse of [her potential] last year in the NCAA tournament against Texas Tech,” Hedlund said. “Brooke went in there and showed her athletic ability. Her confidence level was high. You can’t get on a bigger stage than that.”

Like her coach pointed out, Bradley’s athletic ability is one of the characteristics that sets her apart.

When balls get past the last line of defense, Bradley is able to react quickly and make acrobatic saves that keep the Mean Green in games. However, being thrust into the starting role has forced her to focus on a different aspect of her game.

“I really worked on my confidence,” Bradley said. “During the spring I wasn’t that confident, but I came in being confident and knowing that I had to step into my role on the team.” 

To prepare for the task of replacing Kerestine, Bradley put in countless hours throughout the offseason between the sticks. Over the summer, she played semi-pro and typically had two games every weekend.

“It made me comfortable because I was playing with older girls,” Bradley said. “They’ve all graduated college so that helped me be comfortable [in goal].”

In addition to her responsibility of stopping shots, Bradley must also coordinate the defense. This includes aligning her teammates and the wall on free kicks and corners from opponents.

“The goalkeeper sees everything,” Hedlund said. “She has to be vocal. Her play is just going to send a message to the rest of the team. We did that for four years with Jackie. At times she’s going to have to make the big stop for us, but more importantly, she has to be in control back there.”

Even though Bradley started a game in the NCAA tournament last fall, there was still competition for the starting goalkeeper job when she returned for this season. Her counterpart, freshman Miranda Schoening, was a highly touted recruit out of Alabama.

Ultimately, however, Hedlund opted for the more experienced Bradley to man the net.

“We just felt that Brooke was a little bit more ready at this time, and we’re okay with that because we feel we have two good goalkeepers,” Hedlund said.

Although Bradley and Schoening play the same position, the two are extremely close and push each other on the field.  

“I love Brooke,” Schoening said. “I would consider her one of my best friends here. We’re competitive in practice but we’re always there to help each other too, so we have a great relationship. She’s probably one of the coolest goalkeepers I’ve ever worked with.”

Following up the most accomplished goalkeeper in school history may be daunting or overwhelming to some, but with her upbeat personality and drive to improve, Bradley is already setting her sights on lofty aspirations.

“I have a goal of 10 shutouts,” Bradley said. “I want a conference championship, and we want to make a run in the NCAA [tournament.]”

Featured Image:  Brooke Bradley (1), North Texas sophomore goalkeeper, congratulates the players of Abilene Christian after a 3-1 Mean Green win on August 28th. Dylan Nadwodny

About Author

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune is the Senior Sports Writer for the North Texas Daily, covering football and men's basketball.

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