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TMC’s Amanda Durocher made a seamless transition back to soccer

Posted: December 1, 2009 10:30 p.m.
Updated: December 2, 2009 4:30 a.m.

The Master's College senior Amanda Durocher used up all her college basketball eligibility, but she was able to return to soccer - a sport she excelled in as a youth.

 

It is simply a case of out with the old in with the old.

This time last year, The Master’s College senior Amanda Durocher was preparing for life on the hardwood.

Now out of basketball eligibility, Durocher has returned to a sport in which she excelled nearly five years ago. In doing so, she has helped the Mustangs’ women’s soccer team prepare for a run at the National Christian College Athletic Association championship as the team’s starting goalkeeper.

“Just being part of the program that (women’s soccer head coach Curtis Lewis) is starting to build is an awesome opportunity,” Durocher says. “To make a foundation for what he wants to do for the future, just to be a part of it, I wouldn’t give back for anything.”

She earned Golden State Athletic Conference Player of the Week honors on Sept. 28 and was named to the All-GSAC team at season’s end.

Starting 14 games this season, she maintained a 0.81 goals against average, made 65 saves, held six shutouts and finished with a record of 12-3-2.

Not bad for someone whose competitive reputation was derived from her time on the basketball court.

From 2007 to 2009, the 5-foot-9-inch, 3-point threat racked up 155 baskets from beyond the arc, good for third in TMC history. She holds the record for most 3-pointers in a season with 81.

But two GSAC basketball seasons were all she got, having spent two years at Washington State University.

During her time with the Cougars, Durocher earned All-Pac 10 Freshman Honorable Mention honors and averaged 7.0 points per game.

With the departure of then-WSU head coach Sherri Murrell, as well as offseason wrist surgery prior to her sophomore season, Durocher wanted a change.

She headed to The Master’s, where she had a good relationship with former head coach Ken Sugarman.

Durocher says she had to get used to smaller players in the NAIA, a factor which lends itself to a more run-and-gun style without the presence of the towering forwards to which she had become accustomed to in the Pac-10.

Sugarman coached Durocher’s first year with the Mustangs, before current head coach Dan Waldeck took over the program the following season.

During the 2008-09 season, she averaged 12.7 points per game and was named an NCCAA Honorable Mention All-American.

Then her eligibility ran out.

Waldeck had a proposition for a soccer coach without a goalkeeper and a player looking to compete.

“I told him about her last year saying, ‘Hey one of our players who has soccer eligibility is a really good goalkeeper,’ and that is exactly the position he needed,” Waldeck recalls. “I told them both that they should go for it. What a great opportunity to have a quality athlete that is at a place that she wants to be here and help her team.”

In fact, Durocher played soccer at the U-11 to U-18 club soccer level and on an Olympic Development team growing up.

She won club state championships and was named to the All-South Puget Sound League, South Division First Team all three years at Bethel High School in Spanaway, Wash. She was also named to the All-State Second Team twice and was the Seattle Post-Intelligencer All-Star goalkeeper in 2003.

But that was a long time ago and Durocher’s mind was firmly on hoops. She didn’t think the coaches were serious about her stepping back in net.

“All my thoughts were on going to Europe and playing basketball in Europe,” she says. “I thought it was kind of a joke.”

Still, after careful consideration, Durocher informed Lewis that she would come out for the soccer team.

The results speak for themselves.

She was even aided by the improved ball-handling she developed through playing basketball, she says.

Lewis knew he had something good going early on. But did he expect her to have this big of an impact?

“I don’t think I did,” he says. “I knew she was athletic coming from basketball. She is a quality goalkeeper. She’s been injured the whole year, so she hasn’t been able to punt the ball. She’s come up with big saves. She’s a gamer.”

Durocher has been fighting a strained quadriceps all season, but she hasn’t allowed it to affect her performance.

Not one to get nervous, Durocher says she had to fight off butterflies when she took the field for her first practice and on into the season.

“I remember the first couple games were a little bit rocky,” she says. “I wasn’t really catching the ball. I was batting down and grabbing.”

It didn’t take long for her to get comfortable again.

On Oct. 13, the Mustangs played perennial soccer power, and then-NAIA No. 4-ranked Azusa Pacific at Reese Field.

In some regards, it was a full-circle moment for Durocher.

“It was super cold and rainy, and it kind of reminded me of being back in Washington,” she says.

The game went to double overtime.

The team was fueled by its supporters, which included the TMC men’s soccer team and goalkeeper Kevin Lawson, a senior at The Master’s by way of Kingston, Jamaica.

“I could just hear him yelling in his Jamaican accent,” she recalls. “I totally made the right decision. We ended up losing in double overtime, which was hard for me, but it was a great experience.”

Durocher had three saves in the game, but the Mustangs came up short 1-0 when the Cougars scored in the 104th minute.

“She’s very talkative and positive, and that’s why it’s awesome to have her back there,” says sophomore midfielder Bobbi Roberts. “We need someone back there who can talk and communicate.”

Durocher’s gutsy play has also helped earn the respect of her teammates.

“She enjoys doing (penalty kicks),” Roberts says. “That gave us confidence that she can save those and she is not afraid of those. ... I think she reads them really well. She doesn’t let them make the decision. She makes the decision. If they are coming at her, she goes at them.”

The Mustangs will need her veracity when they open the NCCAA tournament as a No. 2 seed against Palm Beach Atlantic University at 2 p.m. on Wednesday in Kissimee, Fl.

Last year, TMC advanced to the finals, where the team lost 2-1 to Olivet Nazarene.

Perhaps Durocher will be the difference maker that helps the Mustangs bring home a national championship.

Even if they don’t, you can count on one thing – Durocher will have done everything she could to make it happen.

“I’m not going to remember the wins and losses,” she says, “but I’ll remember playing to the potential that I’ve been given.”

And if she takes next semester off, there is even the potential that Durocher will be able to play next fall as well, having used up only half a year of eligibility this season.

With only one other rostered senior, the potential for the 2010 Mustangs seems equally bright.

Especially if Durocher is between the pipes.

 

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