PERRY — At times Thursday night, Madi Takacs may have felt like a duck in a carnival shooting gallery.
Shots were being fired at her from all over the place. One shellacked off the post to her left, while another was deflected by the crossbar above her.
“Sometimes it feels like I have shots coming at me every five seconds,” the Grand Valley goalie said. “I can’t stop all of them, but I bust my butt out there though, and my team appreciates me.”
They appreciate her because while she doesn’t stop all of them, she does a lot of them. Takacs recorded 14 saves in the Mustangs’ 4-0 loss to Perry at Perry Alumni Stadium Thursday night.
A junior and second-year soccer player, Takacs came out for soccer last year because she didn’t care for volleyball and her friends “talked her into it.”
Now, she is one of just a few returning players from the GV team which went 15-3 and advanced to the Division III district tournament a season ago.
This season. with a new coach and a lot of new players, the expectations have changed. But the way Takacs takes care of the net hasn’t.
“She’s so solid back there,” first-year coach Vail Foltz. “I think at this point, she’s tied for first in Division III with the number of saves she has. She has fantastic hands and she makes great saves. She keeps us in every game and that’s what we need back there.”
Takacs added. “My mindset to go into every game like we’re gonna win,. My goal is to stop everything, my defense (from her own play) just has to be there.”
It has to be there because past star players such as Alyssa Clayson, Emily D’Amico, Genesis Foltz and others have moved on.
GV has six freshmen on the roster this year, but only two seniors. Foltz said that some of the upperclassmen had never played varsity soccer before.
“We lost a lot of experience last year,” the coach said. “I think three of our girls on defense have never played high school (soccer) before, so having Maddie’s experience back there, directing them around really helps.”
Thursday, Mary Harvey put the Pirates up 1-0 less than four minutes in.
They’d continue to control possession for almost the entire half, but Takacs kept them out of the net.
In the second half, Takacs took a knee to the head in a collision with a Pirate player going for a loose ball. She had to come out
of the game, but for about a minute, then running back to her spot as protector of the net.
“She’s tough to keep out,” Foltz said.
Not only is Takacs trying to stop everything, she’s taken on the role of leading the team on and off the field.
“Communication is one of the biggest things,” she said. “Staying together on and off the field. Teamwork, knowing each other on and off the field, we have to be there for each other all the time.”
Perry tallied three more goals late in the game to claim the win.
The loss dropped GV to 0-4, but Takacs is there for her team just as much she was a year ago when they were piling up wins.
She’s keeping them together and said that first victory is only a matter of time.
“It’s coming soon,” she said.