As St. John’s women’s soccer goalkeeper Diana Poulin suited up for the first game of her final season last Friday, she still felt the butterflies in her stomach.
Poulin became the winningest women’s goalkeeper in Red Storm history when the squad took down Central Connecticut State 1-0 in that opener, but the senior battled nerves throughout the matchup.
She knows that won’t ever change.
“It’s definitely nerve-wracking,” Poulin said. “A lot of people ask if I get nervous and I do. But I like having that pressure. I think it’s nice if you can perform under that pressure and do well for the team.”
Poulin’s stats over her first three seasons with the Red Storm, however, make it look like she has little to be nervous about.
The two-time Big East Goalie of the Year, Poulin is coming off a record-breaking season. She had a role in a program-best 11 shutouts, making three saves in the shutout over Providence that helped St. John’s clinch its first-ever regular season Big East crown.
Poulin has grown into her role as the Red Storm’s last line of defense and her leadership has become one of the squad’s defining characteristics.
“She just has such a presence about her,” St. John’s coach Ian Stone said. “It’s not just the huge saves, but it’s also the communication. And that spreads through the whole team.”
In a season opener when nothing seemed to go in for the Red Storm, Stone told his team he never worried about Central Connecticut scoring “because of Diana back there.”
It’s a role that Poulin takes incredibly seriously.
“Coach always tells me I have a presence on the field and I’m kind of coming in now with a little bit more confidence than I would when I was a freshman,” she said. “In the beginning I was a little nervous, didn’t really know the game as well. Now I have a little bit more experience under my belt and I can kind of get my team to settle down instead of just settling myself down.”
Poulin doesn’t ever go into a game with a specific approach in mind. It’s as much instinct as it is leadership.
If her defenders can’t shut down an opponent’s offensive attack first, Poulin just trusts her gut and makes a move. She doesn’t worry about letting in goals anymore—her teammates will pick up any slack—and that confidence has led to a more relaxed game.
“It’s just a matter of doing whatever it is that I can,” Poulin said. “Can I come out and close the space for them, can I make the goal smaller for them. I just try my best to not let the ball in.”
Poulin wasn’t concerned with breaking the all-time wins record—her mom had to remind her that she was tied heading into the opener—and now that she’s crossed that bridge, the senior is simply looking to keep winning.
“I think we’ve built the program year by year and I think if I can go out at the highest spot it’s ever been, that would be really nice,” Poulin said. “I know the other girls in my year would love that as well.”
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