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What the ‘most important women’s college soccer moment of the year’ means for the sport

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Vanderbilt's Sarah Fuller (32) kicks off in the second half against Missouri at Memorial Stadium in Columbia, Missouri, on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020. Fuller, a senior goalkeeper on Vanderbilt's SEC championship soccer team, became the first woman to play in a Power 5 NCAA football game. (Hunter Dyke/Mizzou Athletics/Getty Images/TNS)

The most covered moment of women’s college soccer of 2020 didn’t even occur on a soccer field.

On Nov. 28, Vanderbilt goalkeeper Sarah Fuller kicked off the second half of a football game against Missouri, becoming the first woman to play in a Power Five collegiate football game. It was a monumental moment for women’s college soccer.

The O’Colly asked one of Fuller’s former coaches, a former teammate, and a current college coach to quantify how big the moment was for women’s college soccer and what impact it has on the sport.

Hugh Bradford coached Fuller while she played in high school, with the D’Feeters Kicks Soccer Club.

“I think it opened more doors for women, in that there is no ceiling to what they can do,” Bradford said. “I don’t think it’s going to change how they play collegiate soccer because collegiate soccer in its own right is very, very demanding.”

“(Fuller’s kick) will open more doors for female athletes to be able to play in the college football ranks from a placekicking standpoint… and not just female athletes, but male athletes on soccer teams as well. I think colleges might start to look more at them because of the years of training in doing that particular skill.”

Gabriella Coleman is a senior forward on the Oklahoma State soccer team. She was a teammate of Fullers’ when they both played on the D’Feeters together.

Coleman said Fullers’ kick was probably the most important moment of the year for women’s college soccer.

“Sarah just came off of winning an SEC championship to being the first female athlete to kick an extra point in a Power Five school. I feel like that was a big deal in 2020, especially for women in general,” Coleman said.

Collin Carmichael is the current soccer coach at Oklahoma State.

“To me, the biggest thing (Fuller’s kick did), is it draws attention to our sport,” Carmichael said. “Anytime the spotlight goes on to collegiate soccer, specifically women’s soccer and a great athlete like Sarah who seems like a great kid and a very good student athlete, I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

“I’m not sure you’re now going to see 50 women’s college soccer players kicking field goals for a football team… I’m not sure you’re now going to have 5000 fans at Neal Patterson Stadium instead of 2000 because somebody kicked a field goal at Vanderbilt, I’m just not sure you see that kind of trickle down.

“I just think it was a cool moment for women athletes, again, kind of breaking through a ceiling and getting to do something no one’s ever done before.”