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On tap with goalie Natalie Grossi

Grossi runs with the ball. Photo by Beverly Schaefer /
Grossi runs with the ball. Photo by Beverly Schaefer /

Senior goalie Natalie Grossi of women’s soccer broke the Ivy League record — men’s and women’s — for all-time shutouts earlier this year during Princeton’s 1–0 win over Dartmouth. The game put her career total clean sheets at 30, breaking the previous record of 29 held by Dartmouth’s Kristin Luckenbill. Grossi extended her total to 31 after the team’s final game this season against Penn.

Do you feel like you share the record with the defenders?

Yeah, absolutely. It’s kind of a weird record because I don’t see it as my own — in my four years playing here it’s been the defenders and the team’s relentlessness in defending that’s made my job easy enough to get it. I was confident in my defenders that we could get five shutouts this year so it was going to happen, but that was never the goal.

Did you ever expect to break a record like this?

No, it’s not anything you ever think about. I was fortunate enough to play as a freshman so I got the opportunity to play in so many games, giving me the ability to achieve this. It wasn’t until I started getting close to 30 shutouts that people starting talking about it and it began to seem like a possibility. My experience as a four-year starting goalie is kind of unique. I was lucky enough that my coaches gave me the opportunity to play so much. When I came in my freshman year there were five other goalies and it was very competitive. I was just able to get the chance to play. Coach [Sean] Driscoll didn’t recruit me — Kelly Boudreau, who left, is the one who did — so he didn’t see me play that much at the beginning. Sean has been super supportive and doesn’t just play someone because of their age. If you’re good enough you’ll get an opportunity to play.

What are your strengths as a goalie?

Communicating with the backline and just reading the play. Half of my job is talking to the defenders in front of me to make sure they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing and are ready for any situation. I’m there just in case. My communication has gotten better over time — it’s something you have to learn while you’re there with experiences and being put in situations. I don’t want to toot my own horn, but shot-stopping is something I’m pretty good at. If anyone is shooting from a distance I’m pretty confident in my abilities to save it.

I’m really confident in the younger goalies and their abilities to keep the backline solid and take on the role as starting goalie after I’m gone.

Is this a big deal for you?

It is, but it’s definitely a bigger deal for the program, and of course my parents. They’re super proud of it and are telling anyone who will listen. But it’s not just my thing — my defenders make it easy and it’s more of a team record than anything. Any time anyone congratulates me I feel very awkward because I don’t know what to say. But honestly, I’m just really thankful and grateful to my team and defenders.

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