Katelyn Jensen’s mentality doesn’t change. Regardless of the score, the Maryland women’s soccer goalkeeper makes sure she’s in the right positions between the pipes and is communicating with her teammates.
These characteristics have caught the attention of coach Ray Leone, who has started Jensen the past four matches after rotating between three goalies the first seven games, The results have been mixed, but Jensen’s increased playing time has helped her gain confidence working with an inexperienced backline.
“As a goalkeeper, you’re the last line of defense,” Jensen said. “You can’t not be confident because you can’t question your decisions. You have to go 100 percent whether you’re right or wrong and be confident about it.”
Jensen and fellow goalkeepers Rachel Egyed and Stephanie Senn each started in net during the nonconference part of the schedule. Leone then started Jensen in the Terps’ 5-2 loss to George Mason on Sept. 11, and she’s started the game in net in the three contests since.
The transfer from Kentucky was solid against No. 19 Rutgers and Illinois, allowing just one goal in each match and helping Maryland defeat the Fighting Illini, 3-1, for its first Big Ten win.
Meanwhile, the Terps’ 4-1 loss to Northwestern on Sunday served as another learning experience.
Three minutes into Sunday’s match, Jensen had to make a quick decision. Wildcats midfielder Marisa Viggiano took a corner kick, the first of Northwestern’s six on the afternoon.
Jensen was leaning toward the right side of the net with Maryland’s defenders lined up in front of her, but Viggiano’s attempt landed in the lower-left part of the goal. Defender Jlon Flippens said the score was a result of Maryland’s backline failing to communicate.
“There’s definitely more chemistry and more trust,” Flippens said. “[The defense] has definitely improved because we know each other’s movements. It’s just miscommunication.”
Northwestern scored twice in the first 17 minutes, and the Wildcats continued to test Jensen throughout the game, taking 15 shots compared to Maryland’s nine. Despite the Terps’ struggles, Jensen remained optimistic.
“We’re giving less opportunities up,” Jensen said. “Sometimes it’s hard to keep the confidence when we go down, but that comes from the energy from the bench and coaches and the crowd.”
After playing Jensen all 90 minutes in Maryland’s previous three games entering Sunday, Leone put in Egyed, a preseason Big Ten Player to Watch, between the pipes for the final 28 minutes of play.
“It was just an opportunity to get her some time,” Leone said. “The first second she got on the field she had to touch the ball. She needed that. You need to play to improve. There’s no question about that.”
As Maryland prepares for a pair of road contests against Michigan and Michigan State, Leone said he’ll determine who starts in goal based on the opponent.
Still, Jensen’s experiences the past few games will help her moving forward.
“Confidence is huge,” Jensen said. “Everyone on the team has to support each other. It takes games and practices to build that chemistry, and we’re going to continue to do that.”