Jayhawk Insider: Confidence the key for Peters’ early success

By Mitch George

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Sarah Peters was just the second freshman in program history to shut out the opponent in her collegiate debut. That game, against then-No. 18 Pepperdine on August 17, began a streak of three-consecutive matches in which Peters put up a clean sheet against her opponents.

After a 1-0 win against No. 25 Butler on Sunday, Peters may have confirmed that her impressive start isn’t just beginner’s luck. She became the first freshman goaltender in program history to blank her first two ranked opponents.

Not remissive to the role of her defenders in stifling opposing attackers, the Lee’s Summit, Missouri native quickly identified an answer when asked what the key to her success is.

“My confidence,” she said.

This shows in her ability to step into traffic during set pieces, particularly on corner kick situations, where she routinely parts defenders and diffuses opponent attacks.

It also shows on the stats sheet, where she ranks among the national lead in goals-against average among freshman. Her GAA of .031 slates her among the top-25 nationally among all goaltenders.

How often has head coach Mark Francis seen this level of composure in a freshman goaltender?

“Never,” he said with little hesitation. “You can’t put a value on confidence as an athlete. You just can’t. No matter what you do as a coach, if a kid’s not confident, it’s really hard to get that kid confident. A kid like Sarah is so confident in her own ability, that’s why she performs the way she does.”

Nonimmune to mistakes entirely, Peters had a slight lapse on her August 31 outing that let in a Utah goal in the late stages of the contest. However, it didn’t cost the Jayhawks in the win column, and both Francis and Peters credit the situation as a learning experience for the freshman.

“In the long run, I think is going to be good for her because she’ll learn from it,” Francis said.

Associate head coach Kelly Miller, who also mentors the Jayhawk goalkeepers, mentioned the poise of Peters as well.

“It’s actually incredible considering that she’s a freshman,” he said. “She’s very calm, collected, and doesn’t really have highs and lows. She stays really even-keel and just goes about her business.”

The experienced defending duo of juniors Addison Merrick, Elise Reina and sophomore Isabella Cavalcante has started in front of Peters in five out of six regular-season matches, which has provided meaningful stability for the freshman keeper.

“It means a lot,” she said of the veterans. “We’ve built a lot of chemistry over the last few games and over the summer. I love having them in front of me; It’s a real comfort.” 

Looking to build on the positive trends of his newcomer, Miller is optimistic that Peters will continue to improve due to her “tremendous” work ethic.

“The kid goes to work,” said the 20th-year coach. “She’s always hungry for information. She’s going to have great limits for her ability. We expect a lot of things out of her and we’re getting them already, so we’re really excited about the future for her.”  




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