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Interview: Kelsey Bing Talks Goalkeeper’s Mentality, Team USA’s Future

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Kelsey Bing is an All-American goalkeeper for the Stanford field hockey team and a member of the US National Team. A three-time America East Goalkeeper of the Year, Bing will be graduating from Stanford this spring. She spoke with Just Women’s Sports about how she became a goalkeeper, what drew her to Stanford, and what comes next amidst the uncertainty surrounding coronavirus and the US National Team, which failed to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. 

When did you start playing hockey and why did you choose to be a goalkeeper?

I started playing in the seventh grade at the middle school I went to. It had a trimester sport system and you had to play a sport for every season, and the options for fall were field hockey, volleyball and cross country. Cross country didn’t sound all too fun to me and I didn’t really want to be inside. My mom told me field hockey is a lot like soccer, so I tried it out.

I was actually a field player through most of middle school. We had 30 girls on our team, and obviously you’re not going to get a lot of playing time if you have that many kids on the team, but there was a deal with our coach where if you suited up as goalie for half the game, then you didn’t have to come out for the other half. A couple friends and I were like, “I think we might get more playing time if we do it that way.” So we became goalies. But I didn’t really start getting serious about it until when I joined a club team at the end of eighth grade. And then that was when I was like, “Oh, this is actually fun. It’s not just something I’m doing just to get playing time.”

A lot of sports have goalkeepers. What makes field hockey’s unique?

I think it was actually a pretty easy transition from soccer because especially at the basic levels, being a goalkeeper in field hockey is kicking the ball with the inside of your foot. And then the next progression from that is lunging. I was also into fencing for a little while when I was younger, so I was used to the whole equipment getup. Lunging in fencing is also very compatible with field hockey. A lot of the mechanics and the nitty gritty details of being a goalkeeper in field hockey are very different than fencing, but at the time when I first started I was like, “Oh, this was super similar to these things that I’ve done before.”

Goalkeeping in field hockey is still kind of its own world, though. I have to show people pictures of all the equipment I wear, because when I try to describe it, it quickly devolves into a mess. I mean, my mom likes to joke that I look like a transformer when I’m wearing my kit.

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What do you think makes for a good field hockey goalkeeper? 

I think just being able to be athletic in pads is a huge part of the role. One of the things that helped me the most initially is that I was just willing to give it a go. I didn’t really have any positive field hockey goalkeeping role models to look up to. It was just, “What can I find on YouTube? Okay, I know what’s going on.”

You have to love the game and not be afraid that you’re going to mess up, especially in high school. And then once you get to the higher levels, like in college, goalkeeping becomes incredibly technical. You learn all the nuances and little details of the game, and you start to develop a personal style. I’m pretty analytical. I’m an engineer at Stanford, I major in mechanical engineering. So I’m pretty used to diving back into what I’m doing and digesting every little individual piece moving forward. It’s something that I feel is built inside of me, which I’ve always done for better or for worse. But I think to succeed, you have to be a student of the game. You need to know what’s happening at every position on the field.

How did you end up at Stanford and why did you choose to play there?

Academics has always been incredibly important to me. I love playing field hockey, but I also know my education is very important. A lot of it just boiled down to Stanford being one of the best academic institutions in the entire world. I felt fortunate that I even had the ability to go there. The athletic complexes are also just crazy. And then finally, I wanted to go into engineering. So that limited some of the schools in which I could look at specifically, but I don’t think it was a bad thing. Every day I’m so grateful that I was even afforded the chance to go to Stanford.

You were the starting goalkeeper your freshman year. How did you handle that pressure and how were you so successful at the position? 

Where I really got lucky was that a coach saw potential in me as a junior in high school and put me on the under 21 junior national team. It makes sense now, but at the time, I was like, “I’m just this goalie from Texas, what the heck?” But being on the under 21 team as a junior in high school, I had two years to play with some of the best freshmen, sophomores and juniors in college. So I had this ability to acclimate to the game a little bit earlier before most of my class, which was definitely nice.

Goalkeeping is pretty mental. You can psych yourself out in a million different ways. Like being a student at Stanford, there’s definitely duck syndrome, where you’re like, “Yeah, I’m just going to keep moving along. I don’t really know if I belong here, but I hope I do.” And so maybe I wasn’t the most comfortable freshman but I was afforded the chance to make mistakes and learn from them which was very generous of the coaches. I was able to build confidence because they trusted me.

You won the National-Scholar Athlete award for the 2019 season, which goes to the All-American who earns the highest GPA through the first semester of the year. Can you talk about what that meant to you?

I was pretty excited to win the award. It meant a lot to me because I think sometimes people get into their heads that, “If you’re an athlete, that’s the only thing you can do.” And so to see that somebody can be high achieving in both academics and athletics is important to me. It’s also nice because it’s somebody recognizing that yeah, I’m putting hard work in on the field but also in the classroom. Not that that needs to be noticed, but it always feels nice when somebody tells you like, “Hey, you’ve done a really good job here.” My parents think it’s the best thing in the world. They’re so excited about it. My mom’s like, “This is the best thing you’ve ever won.”

When did you start playing for team USA? 

I spent four years on that under 21 team, from my junior year of high school through my sophomore year of college. And then that October, Janneke Schopman, who was the coach at the time, called me in and asked if I would be able to take some of my junior year off to train for the Olympic qualifiers. And so that’s how I got moved up which was pretty cool. I took off winter quarter to train and play in the pro league, which is where the US and eight other countries play home and away games in every country, which, for me, was the coolest thing ever. I was so excited to get to travel and just get to see the hockey cultures of every place we were going to.

You’re graduating from Stanford this spring. What’s next for you?

For the time being, I’m just training as if we’re in the off season. I’m just running outside the front of my house and doing all these weird body weight workouts because I have to go outside to workout. All my neighbors, they’re like, “Oh, what are you training for?” They don’t really get it. In an ideal world, I would be able to find something where I could do both field hockey and an engineering job. Because as I’ve said, I do care a lot about my professional development. I would love to keep training with the national team. I hope that’s still in the books, but it’s so uncertain now.

My dream professionally would be to do something with autonomous vehicles or autonomous aircraft. My depth in mechanical engineering is in dynamics and controls, so it has a lot to do with autonomous systems. Right now, there’s just so much up in the air with USA Field Hockey because we’re in the midst of a location transition and everything. I’m hoping that once I have a little bit more information to work with, I could find something that was feasible, but maybe it’s going to be applying to grad school. Because I know a lot of the girls on the team are able to manage school and play.

Not qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics was devastating. That was really just a low of my career in field hockey. I definitely feel like I have something there to prove like, “Hey, this isn’t the standard. The US field hockey team belongs in the Olympics.” I would love to be a part of that. And I think one of the things that draws me back to field hockey is that I feel I have so much more to learn and develop and grow and I can always come back to my professional career. In 30 years if I decide I want to become a field hockey player again, my body is not going to let me. My time to do it is now.

Caitlin Clark stuns in surprise SNL appearance

(Julia Hansen/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK)

Caitlin Clark made a surprise appearance on “Saturday Night Live” over the weekend, which quickly went viral.

The Iowa star showed up on the show’s Weekend Update segment to playfully call out Michael Che’s history of making jabs at women’s sports. It started when Che joked that Iowa should replace Clark’s retired No. 22 “with an apron.” 

When Clark entered, Che said that he was a fan. But Clark wasn’t convinced – especially not when co-host Colin Jost brought the receipts of Che’s jabs.

“Really, Michael? Because I heard that little apron joke you did,” she said, before making him read some jokes of her own in retaliation and shouting out the WNBA greats that came before her. She then got in one final dig – bringing him a signed apron as a souvenir. 

When Che promised to give it to his girlfriend, Clark delivered her best line of the night.

“You don’t have a girlfriend, Michael,” she said.

Afterward, SNL castmember Bowen Yang told People that the 22-year-old and teammates Gabbie Marshall, Kate Martin and Jada Gyamfi – who joined her at Studio 8H – “were so cool.”

“She's so charming and witty,” Yang said. “They were just the most stunning, noble people.

“Athletes just have this air about them. They know they're amazing. I mean, these are people who have numeric attachments and values to their performance. That's something that comedians never have.”

Portland Thorns start NWSL season winless, in uncharted territory

Portland has started the season winless through four games for the first time. (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports)

The Portland Thorns continue to struggle to start the season, falling 2-0 to the North Carolina Courage and remaining winless through its first four games. 

It’s uncharted territory for Portland, who has never started the NWSL regular season without a win in four games before. Following the loss, defender Becky Sauerbrunn voiced her frustrations with the start. 

“It’s hard to find a lot of encouraging things, but what I find encouraging is that people are frustrated,” she said. “People are pissed off that we’re not doing well. We care, and I think that’s really important.” 


She also added that while the team will reflect individually, “there’s going to be no finger pointing.”

“We’re going to look at ourselves and figure out what we should have done, or I should have done better,” she said. “There is a list of things that I could have done better, and I’m going to make sure I know every single thing and watch this game back.”

The Thorns currently sit at the bottom of the league table with just one point, having allowed 10 goals – tied for the worst in the league. They’ve yet to lead in a match. And as questions grow, answers need to be had from head coach Mike Norris. 

Norris is in his second year as head coach of the club after leading the team to a second-place finish in the regular season last year. When asked about the possibility of pressure growing after the unprecedented start, Norris said that the pressure has been there “from day one.”

“I cannot be driven by my day-to-day and the longer vision of the pressure of the job,” he said. “We’ve got a belief in how we want to play, how we operate. We’ve got to stick with the process of that. While we do it, we have to review and see what is working, what’s not working.

“I’ll be showing up for the team and being there for what they need from me as we approach getting back together as a group next week.”

Maria Sanchez reportedly requests trade from Houston Dash

Mar 23, 2024; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Dash forward Maria Sanchez (7) warms up before the match between Racing Louisville and Houston Dash at Shell Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Maria Sanchez, who signed one of the biggest deals in NWSL history just four months ago, has reportedly requested a trade from the Houston Dash. 

ESPN was the first to report the news, which was confirmed by multiple sources.

In a statement to ESPN, the team said: “​​Maria Sanchez is under contract, a choice she made in free agency at the end of 2023." 

In December, Sanchez signed a new three-year contract with the Dash worth $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. At the time, it was the largest contract in NWSL history – something that was eclipsed by multiple contracts in the following months. 

The winger was a restricted free agent in the offseason, meaning that Houston could match any offer from another team and retain her rights. Should the team trade Sanchez, her contract would remain as it has been signed with the league. That limits the number of teams that could take on her contract. 

In three starts with the Dash this season, Sanchez has zero goals and an assist. The Dash are 1-2-1 through four games and have allowed a league-worst 10 goals.

The team hired a new coach, Fran Alonso, in December. Earlier this year, former goalkeeper coach Matt Lampson was fired for violating the league’s Coach Code of Conduct and Anti-Fraternization policy. 

Both the NWSL trade window and transfer window close at midnight ET on Friday.

Canada beats U.S. Hockey 6-5 in thrilling World Championship win

UTICA, NEW YORK - APRIL 14: Team Canada raises the Championship Trophy after winning The Gold by defeating The United States in OT during the 2024 IIHF Women's World Championship Gold Medal game at Adirondack Bank Center on April 14, 2024 in Utica, New York. (Photo by Troy Parla/Getty Images)

Canada got its revenge on Sunday, winning the 2024 IIHF Women’s World Championship and taking down the U.S. in a 6-5 overtime classic.

Marie-Philip Poulin, a longtime star for Canada, got her first two goals of the tournament, while Danielle Serdachny had the game-winner. 

"I hate to say you're not trying to rely on it, expect it, but I know I've grown to expect it," Canada coach Troy Ryan said of Philip-Poulin. "Tonight was just a whole other level. I could see in her eyes every time we called her name that she was ready to go. It's just special."

The win came after Canada lost 1-0 to the U.S. in the group stage of the tournament. On Sunday, the two teams met for the 22nd time in 23 tournaments in the gold medal game – and the action between the two teams delivered. 

Among those scoring for the U.S. were Megan Keller, Alex Carpenter, Hilary Knight, Laila Edwards and Caroline Harvey. Julia Gosling, Emily Clark and Erin Ambrose had the other three goals for Canada, giving them their 13th World title after falling to the U.S. in last year’s title game in Toronto. 

This year’s game was held in New York, and it was the second-highest scoring final between the two teams. The U.S. won a world championship 7-5 in 2015. 

"Oh man, that feels good to win it on U.S. soil," Canada goalie Ann-Renee Desbiens said after the game. "We owed it to them and owed it to ourselves to win that one."

Canada also denied Knight a record 10th World Championship win, although she did become the most decorated player in women’s world championship history with 14 medals. After the game, Poulin gave Knight a hug on the ice. 

"We just said 'that was unbelievable,'" Poulin said.

U.S. coach John Wroblewski echoed the sentiment that it was an outstanding game after being asked about ending the game on a power-play after leaving too many players on the ice. 

"Instead of talking about the isolated events of tonight's game, I think that normally that's an interesting storyline,” he said. “But I think the entity of an amazing 6-5 game is an amazing hockey game that took place."

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