This phenom’s primed for playoffs: Accidental ’keeper Morrison shines for SAIT
October 24, 2012
CALGARY — Back in August, the request seemed a tad on the casual side.
“Yeah, when our coaches approached the team, it almost seemed like a joke: ‘We might be short a goalie. Who wants to step up?’ ” recalls Katie Morrison. “I said, ‘Aw, yeah, I can definitely step up. I’m a great goalie.’
“Not thinking,” she adds with a chuckle, “that in the long run, they might actually put me in net. I didn’t really take it too seriously.”
Maybe not. But from the moment she stepped between the planks for the SAIT Trojans women’s soccer team, Morrison has been all business.
The Trojans (5-3-2) have qualified for Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) playoffs for the first time since 2002 — an achievement that speaks volumes about commitment and sacrifice. And where sacrifice is concerned, there’s no better example than Morrison (2nd year, Calgary, business administration) — who stood by her pre-season offer, even though she was the Trojans’ lone ACAC South Division all-star, at midfield, during the 2011 campaign.
“We were really in a jam, because our prospective goalkeeper told us in mid-August that she was no longer coming back to SAIT — and we hadn’t recruited any other ’keepers at that point,” recalls third-year Trojans apprentice coach Erin Schwab.
“I’m incredibly proud of Katie, and so grateful that she was willing to do this for us this season.”
With Morrison as the last line of defence, the Trojans head off to the ACAC provincial championship tournament this weekend at Edmonton’s MacEwan University as the South Division’s third seed. They’ll meet the No. 2 seed from the North, the NAIT Ooks (8-1-1), in a provincial quarterfinal on Friday, Oct. 26 at 12 p.m.
Morrison, it should be noted, has hardly been a stand-in of the can-you-fog-a-mirror variety.
While other Trojans, such as striker Amoy Hudson (1st year, Calgary, bachelor of business administration accounting) and midfielder Caitlin Gallant (2nd year, Calgary, energy asset management), took their turns in net, Morrison developed into the go-to gal by the third week of the campaign.
She finished the regular season with a respectable 1.82 goals-against average — eighth on the list of starting ’keepers in the 12-team ACAC.
“We were all a little concerned at the start of the season, because we didn’t have a goalie, but Katie stepped up huge for us,” says midfielder and co-captain Breanne MacLeod (2nd year, Calgary, energy asset management). “We all respect her as a goalie, now, as well.”
Adds Schwab: “She’s a gifted athlete, and she’s smart, too, so she plays the angles really well. She has a lot of heart, obviously. She’s been so impressive, considering that she’s not a goalie.”
Morrison, a five-foot-six Calgarian who also plays club with the Calgary Fire FC of the Calgary Women’s Soccer Association, has never played ’keeper at any level of organized soccer, but has been able to rely on her innate athleticism to succeed. A background in other sports, where agility means everything, hasn’t hurt.
“After a few games, I understood the game more from a goalkeeper’s perspective — how to come out, how to react to different situations during the game,” says Morrison. “I’d say that having played basketball and volleyball in the past, because of the quickness necessary in those sports, has helped me in that sense. I still tailor some of my workouts around a little more quickness and being more alert.”
The Ooks are a blank page to the Trojans, who because of their post-season absence haven’t played a North Division opponent in a decade. But the Women of Troy’s focus, heading into playoffs, is inward.
“Everyone meshes so well. We’ve really bonded. And it shows on the field — we use each other a lot more, we trust each other, we’re passing a lot more,” says Morrison. “We know we have to bring our ‘A’ game, obviously, but we’re just focusing on us, and not on the other team.”