Six games into freshman goalkeeper Julia Ennis’ young collegiate career, she’s ranked fourth in save percentage in the SUNYAC with .794, is listed seventh in saves with 27 overall, ranks second in wins with four and was awarded SUYNAC’s Prestosports Defensive Athlete of the Week after week one.
Behind Ennis’ impressive body of work in her first season, her coaches said, is maturity, drive and her competitive nature.
The SUNY Plattsburgh women’s soccer team’s coaching staff first saw Ennis play in clips and then later in person at the NEWSS Soccer Showcase on Long Island in November 2018.
Associate head coach Frantzy Noze reported back about Ennis and liked what he saw.
“He came back singing Julia’s praises and then immediately, she was on the radar,” head coach Tania Armellino said.
Ennis, meanwhile, was looking for a college she felt comfortable in and thought she found it in Mount Saint Mary College; she even verbally committed to it, but that changed after her campus tour.
“When I saw Plattsburgh, I could not resist. It was definitely the place I wanted to be,” Ennis said.
Plattsburgh State initially liked Ennis’ technique, her ability to come out of the box and her how vocal she is on the field.
After the 2018 season, the Cardinals were in strong need of a new core of goalkeepers. In the last two seasons, Plattsburgh State graduated Nichole Gibson, a three-year player who earned all-conference honors twice, and Taylor Adams, a goalie who came back from two ACL injuries and earned a spot on the all-conference team in her last season as a graduate student.
Ennis didn’t feel pressured coming in after Gibson and Adams, instead, she found resolve in getting better.
“I just knew in myself that I’d have to step up,” Ennis said.
Armellino was confident Ennis could step in and fill their shoes.
“We anticipated 100% she’d be coming in to compete to start, and when she visited, we shared as much that she could be super successful here,” Armellino said.
A couple of Ennis’ traits her head coach picked up on once she got on campus and raves about is her maturity and drive.
“Not only does she want to get better as an individual player, she wants the program to be successful,” Armellino said, “As a freshman to come in with that ownership and already want that for the program, I think just speaks to her maturity and the kind of player that she is.”
Ennis is already coming into her collegiate career with refined skills and natural talent, her coaches said. The combination of skill, talent and maturity as a freshman is what Armellino called rare.
“There’s versatility in your players, but a goalkeeper is the specialty position on the pitch,” Armellino said. “Without it, and without its strength, you cannot be successful. So for her to come in and earn that role, fill that role, again, is incredible.”
Goalkeeping coach Geoff Spear has seen young players come into the program and have to contribute right away before but said Ennis is fairing particularly well.
“You’re coming into a position that has to have the ability to assert some authority,” Spear said. “All the plays are in front of you. It can be tough even if you have a lot of the physical tools because you need to have the communications skills to work and gain the confidence of the team in front of them because you’re kind of trying to steer the boat a little; that’s a tough thing to do, so I think she’s done a pretty good job so far at that.”.
Armeillino said she’s already seen progression in her first six games of the season and is excited to see how she performs when the Cards begin their conference schedule today against Fredonia.
“There’s already been growth in these six games,” she said. “Now that we’re heading into conference [play], I think it’s just going to get even better.”
Armeillino knows what a good goalkeeper looks like; in four of the last five seasons, she’s had a goalkeeper named to an all-conference team. She thinks Ennis can become one, too.
“I see her being one of the best goalkeepers in the SUNYAC 100%” she said.