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Standout goalie shines at Indiana

By FRANK ACETO Associate Sports Editor Published: July 9, 2017 12:00 AM
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She graduated early to get a head start with her future team.

She had to sacrifice a significant amount of her free time to push herself to levels she had never reached before.

Fortunately, all of that grunt work paid off for 2015 Hudson graduate Sarah L'Hommedieu.

As a result, she immediately became a star in between the pipes for a major Big Ten program.

L'Hommedieu had a stellar freshman year as a goalkeeper for the Indiana University women's soccer team.

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L'Hommedieu finished 7-8-4 as a starter and had a 1.56 goals against average.

Her 93 saves is the fifth highest single-season total in school history and is the second highest total for an Indiana freshman.

The Hoosiers finished 7-9-4 and were eliminated by eventual conference champion Minnesota 3-1 in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.

While her tireless work prior to the season paid huge dividends, L'Hommedieu will admit it was no day at the beach.

"The whole spring definitely wasn't my favorite time," L'Hommedieu said. "The coach suggested to me to come to college early. It was a time to grind and put everything you have on the field every day. In retrospect, I was happy I went."

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L'Hommedieu became the starting goalkeeper after the first week of the season and remained in goal the rest of the fall. In fact, once L'Hommedieu became the starter, she never left the field.

Her performance certainly spoke for itself.

L'Hommedieu led the Big Ten in total saves and average saves per game (4.9). Her save total was the seventh highest total in the country amongst freshmen.

L'Hommedieu also had 53 saves in conference play, which was the third highest total in the Big Ten.

L'Hommedieu's efforts didn't go unnoticed.

She was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week twice and also was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week.

L'Hommedieu earned those honors with eight saves during the Hoosiers' 1-0 victory over the University of Butler (Ind.), six saves during Indiana's 3-0 win over the University of Northern Colorado and 15 saves during the Hoosiers' 1-1 draw against Penn State University.

She also had 15 saves during Indiana's 2-2 draw against Rutgers (N.J.) University.

"Sarah had an undying effort to get better," Hoosiers head coach Amy Berbary said. "She had an unbelievable work ethic. She represents herself in a great manner as well."

Berbary knew L'Hommedieu brought something special to the table right away.

"She won the position the first week and played every minute of every game," the fourth-year Indiana head coach said. "I haven't had a freshman do that since I've been here.

"Her ability to move her feet improved tremendously and she is fantastic at distributing the ball out of her hands. She also has a great head on her shoulders."

L'Hommedieu's abilities were evident long before she became a Hoosier.

She was a four-year starter for the Lady Explorers and allowed just .71 goals per game during her stellar career.

L'Hommedieu led Hudson to a 15-1-1 record with 10 shutouts during her senior year. She guided the Lady Explorers to a total of 54 wins and four trips to the Kent Division I district title game.

As her statistics proved, L'Hommedieu didn't have much trouble getting herself acquainted with the Division I collegiate level.

But it wasn't nearly as easy as it appeared.

"What took me by surprise was not so much playing," L'Hommedieu said. "College soccer was just a whole new level compared to high-school soccer. Every shot was 100 percent. Every play took everything out of you since I played against older players and former Olympians."

Despite her huge burst on the scene as a freshman, L'Hommedieu knows she can't rest on her laurels.

Berbary and her staff recently recruited a talented rising freshman goalkeeper who expects to give L'Hommedieu a run for her money.

Such a challenge is just fine with L'Hommedieu.

"Competition is a major reason why I love soccer," she said. "Indiana recruits top-level players at every position. We're a blue-collar team that pushes through everything. We have great leadership."

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