Senior soccer goalie Jack Walsh caught up with former SLUH keeper and current Indiana starting goalie Luis Soffner, ’08, to discuss Indiana’s National championship victory last week. The two also touched on Soffner’s time at SLUH and future prospects for the MLS.
Jack Walsh: First of all, Luis, I’m sure you have heard it a million times, but congratulations of the National championship win.
Luis Soffner: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
JW: Being a senior captain this year, I’m sure the entire team looked up to you for leadership. How did you try and use that leadership to rally the team during this special run?
LS: Like you said, I’m a senior. I am also a fifth-year senior. I have been here for five years now, and obviously being named the team captain was a huge honor, and it comes with some responsibility too, but it would be through leading the team with my play. If I am playing well then hopefully the other guys will see that, and they can heighten their game too. And obviously off the field too. Just helping guys out especially some of the younger guys who may have issues with stuff, so my goal as being one of the leaders on the team this year was to work as hard as I could and show everyone that hard work definitely pays off.
JW: We always hear the saying defense wins championships. Your team had shutouts against North Carolina, Creighton, and Georgetown, three of the best teams in the country. ...What does that saying really mean to you after you have won on the biggest stage?
LS: It’s basically truthful now. It’s fact. We said it all season that offense can win you some games but defense will win you a championship. With the last three games, three shutouts, and I didn’t even have to make a lot of saves, so it’s not like I was back there working my tail off. Our team really bought in to playing team defense this year, and all the guys worked extremely hard on defense. Whether it was blocking shots or communicating, it was incredible to watch, and they definitely made my job a lot easier.
JW: In the semifinals and the finals you came up with some unbelievable saves to keep your team in contention for the National Championship. What is it like to make those saves when the game is on the line and you know that you could be the difference?
LS: It feels great. Obviously as a goalie you can go 85 minutes, like the game against Creighton, and not have to do a lot, and then the last five minutes you might be all over the place. So for that game alone, it definitely showed how stressful being a goalie can sometimes be and how focused you always have to stay and for me I just try and stay focused all game just through communication.
JW: Being good and lucky at the same time helps a lot in sports, especially when fighting for a National Championship. A Georgetown attacker hit a ball off the post in the finals and came inches from tying it late in the game. What was going through your mind during that play?
LS: I was pretty nervous. I went from being extremely nervous to extremely happy in a matter of a second. That ball, I saw it looping over my head and I knew that it was heading toward the goal and there wasn’t really much I could do. Like I said, it kind of went up and over me, and I saw it dipping down, but as I said, sometimes you need a little bit of luck, and we definitely deserved a little bit of luck at that moment, and luckily it hit the crossbar and fell right into my hands. As I saw it go over my head, I was nervous, and then when it fell right back to me I was extremely happy knowing that there was only a couple minutes left, and I think it (being lucky) was pretty much determined by that one play.
JW: At SLUH you lost a State final against Rockhurst in a tight game. How does winning on the biggest stage for Indiana compare to losing on the biggest stage representing SLUH?
LS: They are definitely similar. Obviously one being in the collegiate level and for me it’s a huge honor to even get the chance to play in college to win a championship is incredible, but at SLU High, that loss in the finals, I will always remember that one too. Obviously you set out every season with a team. They are basically your brothers and those guys are still some of my best friends, and it will be a game that I always remember, and we all wanted to win a championship and it was unfortunate that it wasn’t our day that game.
JW: Do you think that SLUH gave you a great foundation for your future successes at Indiana both on the field and in the classroom?
LS: For sure. 100 percent. With St. Louis being such a big soccer city, it definitely alone prepared me enough to play college soccer here for Indiana, one of the best programs in the country. But for SLUH particularly, there was no better two years of my life—I was only there for two years—but it was absolutely incredible. Like I said before, I played with some of my best friends and the level of soccer was great. Everyone was always competing and working hard. It wasn’t just a hobby; it was definitely something that we all wanted to win and wanted to play. And in the classroom, the academics at SLUH speak volumes for themselves pretty much. SLUH in general has prepared me more than anything else ever will for college, and it was absolutely incredible.
JW: One last question. You were invited to the Major League Soccer combine. What are your plans for the future, and would you like to continue your soccer career?
LS: Yes, absolutely. I am going to go to the combine from Jan. 10 to Jan. 15. It was a huge honor to get invited, and it’s been one of my goals for the last two or three years now to make it professionally. So I am extremely honored, and I think it will be a fun week to go down and play with some of the best kids in the country and showcase my talents in front of some good coaches in the MLS, and hopefully I will be able to get picked up either in the draft or in the preseason, and I’d love to be able to play and represent not only my family and myself but also all of St. Louis too.