When she was younger, graduate senior and starting goalkeeper for the Drake women’s soccer team Kelsie Stone was on the B team. That didn’t stop her from becoming a Division I athlete and breaking the Bulldogs’ school record for shutouts in a career with 21 total.
“I’ve been playing soccer since I was five,” Stone said. “When I was younger, I was actually on my club’s second team for about six years. There’s only one goalkeeper that plays for each team so I learned from a young age that it’s going to take a lot of work if I want to get where I’m going.”
Stone said that to get to where she wanted to be, she had to give it everything she had. Soccer had to become her identity.
“It just came with a lot of extra practices and I’ve done that since I was in about fifth grade,” Stone said. “It was just something inside me that really wanted to work really hard and to get good at this. I’m just a soccer player at Drake. That’s about all I do so I feel like that’s kind of who I am.”
Eventually, after many extra practices and extra time on the field, Stone made her club’s first team and never looked back.
“I eventually made the top team by the time I was in middle school and by the time I was a senior in high school, I was an All-American,” Stone said. “I think my consistency and need to be the hardest worker is what got me there. I obviously wasn’t given natural talent, and I worked to get there.”
Even so, Stone said her time on a college soccer team has had its challenges. She had to continue in her determination to have success.
“The college game is a lot more intense than anything I’ve experienced,” Stone said. “Coming in right away I had a really great goalkeeper coach here and I give him a lot of credit because he just threw me into the deep end and then told me to catch up. Having that pressure put on me helped to up the work rate and learn more about the game, how it’s played and how we do things here at Drake.”
In her first three seasons as a starting keeper for the Bulldogs, Stone averaged 41 goals-against in 3,660 minutes across 41 games. That is an average of one goal per game.
Senior Libby Helverson said that Stone’s talent gives Drake’s defense more confidence.
“It’s very helpful when we have so much confidence in Kelsie’s ability that it makes our back line play better as well,” Helverson said.
She also credited Stone’s hard work as a motivator for the rest of the squad.
“Kelsie is always trying to better herself, which inspires others to keep working hard,” Helverson said. “When challenges arise, she’s the person that is going to calm the team down and solve the problem. She’s also great at building her teammates up and recognizing their efforts and talent.”
And, although her final season as a Bulldog isn’t over, all the work has already culminated to get her into the school record books. Stone said that it’s a testament to the program and the back lines she’s worked with during her career at Drake.
“A shutout is really a testament to how good we are defensively as a whole, not just my ability to make saves,” Stone said. “That was big for me because it shows that despite the players that we have in there — the different strengths or weaknesses we’ve had — that I was able to bring each back line together and be successful.”
Stone said that through all the hard work, dedication and ups and downs, it was ultimately her teammates that got her to this point.
“A little shoutout to my defenders that I’ve had, especially the ones this season. Megan Valenzuela and Delaney Goertzen. The two of them have been huge and the three of us have tried to come together and keep the standards high. I know that it’s a goalkeeping shutout record, but I also think that highlighting them is important as well.
Stone and the Bulldogs currently sit eighth in the Missouri Valley Conference with a record of 6-6-5, and they will wrap up their regular season on Thursday, Oct. 28 when they host UNI.