Saving Grace: Goalkeeper Labrecque pivotal part of soccer team's success during critical weekend
She has been the Chippewas saving grace on many occasions this season, and women's soccer needs her this weekend more than ever.
The performance of junior goalkeeper Grace Labrecque could determine the success or failure of the soccer team during a crucial home-and-away series as the season's end nears.
The women have an opportunity Friday to knock off one of the best teams in the Mid-American Conference when they travel to Oxford, Ohio to play Miami.
Two days later, CMU (6-2 in MAC) will host winless Ball State on senior day Sunday at 3 p.m. at the CMU Soccer Complex.
“Truth be told they are all big games from this point to the end of the season,” said head coach Peter McGahey. “The stability (Labrecque) brings is huge for us. She is a very important part of our backline, and we will need her to come through for us this weekend.”
The RedHawks (5-1-2 in MAC) have one the most consistent scoring attacks in the conference. Miami is averaging just over 13 shots per game and have totaled 28 goals scored heading into action against CMU.
MU has a bevy of weapons. Three different RedHawks have scored at least five goals this season.
“As long as we stick to our same game plan and stay organized defensively, we should be OK,” Labrecque said. “Having a scoring attack like we have takes a little bit of pressure off. When they do well, it helps (the backline) a lot."
Labrecque will look to extend her consecutive shutout streak to five games against Miami. She has allowed just 10 goals and totaled 50 saves through 11 games this season.
CMU has scored seven goals during Labrecque’s four-game shutout streak. However, the Chippewas have allowed 21 shots on Labrecque’s net during that span; a season high for any four-game stretch this season.
“We can’t prevent every scoring chance. Things happen,” Labrecque said. “I am always just trying to do my job out there every time, and thankfully my teammates have been there to help a lot.”
CMU’s leading goal scorer, Laura Gosse, heads into the weekend with five goals to her name and said having a player like Labrecque protecting her team's net is comforting.
“When she makes those saves like she does it gets us all really pumped up,” Gosse said. “When we can get a couple of goals and get ahead, we feel safe back there because we know what kind of goalkeeper we have.”
The junior goalkeeper’s success seems effortless at times. Her sheer size and cat-like reflexes have singled her out as a lead candidate for the Chippewas most valuable player this season.
During MAC play, her confidence has become contagious.
“My team brings me confidence,” Labrecque said. “We’ve been winning more lately, which is a major confidence boost. The relationships we all have off the field helps a lot. We are all here for each other.”