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Keeping her spot: Vitali excelling as starting goalkeeper

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Evie Vitali, Charme Morgan, Shayann Mcclary

From left to right: Morgan, Vitali, Mcclary

Evie Vitali needed two weeks of college soccer practice.

In those 14 days, she established herself as Oklahoma State’s top goalkeeper.

Fast forward to late September and Vitali is among the Big 12’s best. Earlier this week, the freshman was named the conference’s Goalkeeper of the Week after collecting two clean sheets over the weekend. Her five shutouts are tied with Texas Tech's Madison White for most in the league.

At the beginning of the season, she was competing for a starting role with redshirt freshman Ary Purifoy and Amber Lockwood, the only Cowgirl keeper with college experience.

Halfway through the campaign, Vitali has played every minute this season — 831 in all. To the credit of her backline, she has only fished the ball out of her own net seven times in nine matches. Just like her experience, Vitali’s confidence as well as her trust from her teammates and coaches has increased.

She’s no longer the timid newcomer recognizable at the beginning of the season.

“I think (Vitali) understands that she belongs,” coach Colin Carmichael said. “I think any freshmen, probably more so goalkeepers because it’s such a unique position, they all have this sort of doubt like ‘I am I good enough?’”

Even now, Vitali controls her own fate.

“We stress she’s doing really well, especially for a freshman goalkeeper to be thrown in,” Carmichael said. “But there are areas to improve and if she takes her foot off the gas and trains poorly for a week or two, Amber (Lockwood) or Ary (Purifoy) are dying to play.”

Carmichael said ball security and her decision making with ball distribution could be improved.

Beyond the little things that could make a good goalkeeper great, Vitali’s efforts have been noticed by her squad.

“She’s just doing what she’s supposed to do,” defender Charmé Morgan said. “You don’t fix what’s broken.”

sports.ed@ocolly.com