For Kristin Carden, soccer is so much more than a game. It’s her entire identity. Hooting and hollering from the sidelines during the spring and summer practices, many onlookers would assume she was the head coach, not the starting goalkeeper.
Sidelined due to a severe high ankle injury suffered during the early spring, Carden was forced to sit out during much of the summer conditioning. Instead of hanging her head, however, she seized the opportunity to serve as a mentor and solidify her role as the team’s go to leader on the bench. Her vocal presence is hard to overlook, and her work ethic is on par with her veteran status. Without a doubt, Carden’s on field individual contributions seem mirrored by her ability to keep her team focused and encouraging them to play with as much fire and emphasis as she does during every play.
“I think one of her best qualities is just having a presence. Not only her size and her unique ability, but she cares a lot about this program and her teammates around her really know that and embrace her for that. The younger one’s look at her, being a fifth year senior, and with how competitive she is, and her strong vocal presence, as someone they can look to for advice and inspiration both on and off the field,” Added Women’s Soccer Co-Head Coach Tiffany Sahayduk.
After spending her 2008 and 2009 campaigns as the starting goalie for Virginia Tech and posting the second most career wins in Hokie women’s soccer history (18), Carden transferred to VCU to take over the goalkeeping reigns for the Rams. The six-footer has certainly been nothing short of spectacular during her tenure in Richmond. As a junior in 2011, Carden defended the cage as if it was life or death. She started in all 21 matches for the Rams, allowing only 15 goals, while recording a minuscule 0.68 goals against average (GAAvg), and saving more than 70 shots on net. Not to mention the fact that she also posted nine shutouts for VCU, on her way to 9-8-3 record and a First Team All Colonial Athletic Conference selection. To sum it up, she was a complete beast on the field, unwilling to settle for anything but her best effort. Nonetheless, Carden knew that if she wanted to take the next step, she would have to start leading by example and set the standard for her younger and more inexperienced teammates.
“Being a leader through communication and having a voice back there is really important as a goaltender. I want to be a helpful player both on and off the field and I want to be that voice they [the team] can count on. In order to help improve my own individual game and to progress my team, I want to be able to help them organize and facilitate them where they need to be when their not sure. That way I can best serve the team chemistry, which I think is most important for our success as well as my responsibility for taking a leadership role for the younger players,” said Carden.
Getting back on the field in late Aug., Carden’s hiatus didn’t seem to affect her individual ability in the slightest. Since returning for the Rams in goal, she has not lost since the first weekend she came back (Aug. 26th), and has recorded shutouts in four of the last five matches, to add to her already incredible 11 shutouts during her two years at VCU.
“I need to continue to improve on my play every day in practice and in games. I just want to get better on every save and be able to make those big saves for this team when it counts. It’s important that I put my best foot forward to make myself better and make those around me better whenever and however I can do that,” expressed Carden.
The VCU Women’s Soccer teams currently posts a 9-4-3 (4-2) record, and are winners of four of their last five games. The Rams next contest is at home on Oct. 19th against their Atlantic-10 rivals, the Richmond Spiders.