Reigning Goalkeeper of the Year forced into advisory role

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Photo Courtesy of OU Athletics

Michael Pearce, Editor-in-Chief

Coming off a season where he won Horizon League Goalkeeper of the Year, Sullivan Lauderdale is now in an advisory role during what was supposed to be his final playing season.

Lauderdale graduates in December, and in August the Horizon League announced fall sports would be postponed until spring. For Lauderdale, this meant the end of his collegiate career.

“It was hard, especially when I first found out,” he said. “I was pretty upset because I thought that we’d be able to at least have a Horizon League season.”

In what is now his final season, Lauderdale was named the conference’s best goalkeeper and was placed on the All-Horizon League first team. He had four clean sheets in conference play, three of those ending in victories.

For him, receiving the Goalkeeper of the Year award was a big honor.

“I was really happy to receive that [award],” Lauderdale said. “It came down to the fact that as a team we had a really good season and that just really put me in a good position to receive that.”

Lauderdale will advise the team and occasionally fill in during practices in an unprecedentedly long offseason.

“It’s a different feeling,” he said. “Usually when you start training in the fall, we’re getting straight into games and all of our season. The excitement is still there, obviously, but it’s not the same as it would be if we were coming in the preseason in August.”

The advisory role was suggested to him by Head Coach Eric Pogue during the summer quarantining period. At the time, Lauderdale was weighing his options of internships, his studies and soccer.

“I spoke with Pogue on a personal level about how I mad to make some decisions coming up,” Lauderdale said. “He was really supportive throughout the whole process and made it clear that if I wasn’t going to be around as often I was still welcome to help coaching.”

Last season, the men’s soccer team finished their season with a 7-9-3 record, putting them at the four seed in the Horizon League Tournament. In the tournament, they lost to the No. 5 seeded Wright State Raiders, 4-1.

Now, the Golden Grizzlies will have a new goalkeeper in the spring, and Lauderdale will graduate with an engineering degree after coaching them up in the fall.

The options for the next goalkeeper are Finn Jurak and Nour Maoui, but Pogue could add more goalkeepers before the spring season. Neither have played minutes for the Golden Grizzlies yet, but Lauderdale was confident in their abilities.

“They’re both very good,” he said. “The biggest thing I’ve learned is you have to be confident in your role, and once you’re confident and you believe — you can do the job you’re meant to do.”

Despite the delay in their season and the uncertainty of the pandemic, Lauderdale felt the men’s soccer team was keeping a positive attitude and enjoying training and practice.

“It’s been really great and exciting to get back,” he said. “Everybody is really excited right now just because everybody has been apart or alone for so long.”

There are many new members of the team, but Lauderdale felt the process of training brings everyone together, regardless of how long they have been a Golden Grizzly.

“Even though there’s a lot of new people, we’re all used to doing the same thing every season,” he said. “Once you’re in training you don’t even worry about who’s new and who’s not or anything like that.”