Following career season, Weaver staying grounded with goals
By Chris Albas-Martin
Ice skater, defender, all-Big Sky goalie. This is the journey that junior goalkeeper Lauren Weaver has taken on the way to recording her career best season.
“She has been massive,” said head coach Andre Luciano. “She has had three or four huge games for us that have kept us in the games and her leadership and shot stopping ability has been really, really big for us in conference.”
As a freshman, Weaver posted one shared shutout and made a 2010 season high nine saves in a match against New Mexico State University. She played only six games in her first season as she was back-up goalkeeper to Tori Rocke. It was during her sophomore year, however, that Weaver firmly established herself as the No.1 goalkeeper at NAU.
As a sophomore, Weaver finished the season with a host of awards. She had an All-Big Sky honorable mention, also winning the Big Sky Defensive Player of the Week and Big Sky Co-Defensive Player of the Week once while leading the Big Sky in number of saves made and saves per game. This proved to be a breakthrough season for Weaver, as she played in 17 games, with 16 starts and recorded two clean sheets.
“I did not go home,” Weaver said. “I put so much work in for months and months and it was like, finally rewarding myself and just having fun with it.”
This season was, without a doubt, Weaver’s best season at NAU. The Winnetka, Calif. native recorded six shutouts and earned the Jacks some vital points in the Big Sky with key saves. Her performances this season led to her collecting another All-Big Sky honorable mention and being named to the College Sports Madness All-Big Sky second team. Despite the accolades, Weaver has stayed grounded and says that she wants to improve for next season
“It was such an honor to be recognized, but it is not satisfying,” Weaver said. “I feel like I should get more and, like Andre said, that is just going to fuel my fire for next year and go out with a bang in my senior year.”
Weaver made a career-high 12 saves against Portland State University in 2012, as she became the sixth goalkeeper in NAU’s soccer program to fashion a dozen saves in a game and she ranked top five in the Big Sky in all goalkeeping statistics. Her record-breaking performances have led to her teammates having full confidence in her if the opposition breaches the defense.
“She has made some really good saves this year (2012),” said junior defender Alana D’Onofrio. “If someone gets beat, she will come out and block them before shooting and take the ball off them. So we are really confident if someone gets behind us. She is back there and we have a lot of confidence in her.”
Weaver will be a senior next season, and will be playing her final season in an NAU uniform. Despite recording her career best season, she has never been someone to rest on her laurels as she wants to continually improve and build on her recent success, to make her a better player and record an even better season next year.
“There are always expectations,” Weaver said. “I want my goals against to be low, this year it was the lowest I have ever had; but I would still like it to be one more under.”
This drive and determination means that the Chatsworth High School graduate will want to go out with a bang next season in her final year, and with a good defense in front of her and a strikeforce which will have an extra year’s experience, the Jacks have all the ingredients to make a serious challenge for the Big Sky Championship at the end of the season, which is the ultimate goal each year.
“The goal is to go to the NCAA tournament,” Weaver said. “Just show people that, even though we are little NAU school, we can do great things.”
With a couple of great seasons behind her, high determination and drive to succeed, NAU knows that they have a reliable goalkeeper between the sticks to help them out and Weaver has all the attributes to play soccer professionally.
“It is always going to be in the back of my mind,” Weaver said. “I love soccer so much that I am always going to want it in my life.”