Madi White’s freshman season started off similar to a lot of other first-year players in NCAA women’s soccer, but it ended up as one for the record books at Texas Tech.
“Last year was such a good learning experience for me,” White told BGN. “For the first half of the season, I was set on redshirting and not stepping onto the field for the first time until my sophomore or junior year.” But, everything changed when Marissa Zucchetto went out with an injury against #22-ranked South Florida. “Being thrown into my first collegiate game in an intense match made me very nervous and I had no clue what to expect,” she said. “I hadn’t played against girls of this skill level before and having to step into that magnitude of a game so quickly wasn’t the easiest. I’m so grateful for the rest of the team for always having my back and building me up before big games like that.”
It didn’t take long for Madi, who lists Hope Solo and Petr Cech as two of her favorite GKs, to prove that she could play in those big matches, making seven saves in the Texas Tech victory over USF. The freshman phenom went on to pick up countless accolades including multiple Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors, Big 12 Freshman of the Year, and First Team All-Big 12. “Being able to get that much experience as a freshman just excites me for how much time I have left to play and grow. Last year was also such a special team,” she said. “Everyone was so close and made each other feel welcome so that made adapting to college soccer a lot easier.”
That special 2019 team made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, largely due to a heroic 11-save effort from their star goalkeeper in the first round vs. Pepperdine. “During games like Pepperdine, it is a stressful game with rapid-fire and no time to put your head down or get caught off guard. Games like those are always my favorite because I feel as though I’m always doing something or stopping a shot,” White explained, who also stopped two penalty kicks in the shootout to secure the victory. “Some of the saves in those types of games are reflex and are some of the most difficult to make. People shooting as hard as they can just a couple feet in front of you isn’t the most ideal situation but a lot of times it just requires a finger or two to keep it out of the back of the net.”
Obviously, when a match is that competitive and action-packed, there isn’t much time to relax for a goalkeeper. But, there are definitely matches on the other end of the spectrum. That begs the age-old question, what does a goalkeeper think of when they are not involved in the action? “Most of the time when the ball is at the other end, I think about what I’m going to eat after. If it’s the first half I always think about what snacks are in the locker room that I can eat during half time,” she answered. “During the second half, I always think about dinner and what giant meal I can eat after the game. Almost all the time I’m thinking about food.”
Every once in a while, she will have her own personal soundtrack. “Sometimes I’ll have a song or two stuck in my head that just keep playing on repeat,” she said. “This season, I’ll probably be replaying some of the new songs from Drake and some old Mac Miller songs.”
To make sure life is good between the sticks for Texas Tech, White went to work in the offseason. “During all the time we had off in the spring, I focused on bettering myself so that I can be better on the field. Working on myself but also trying to improve my game while being away from the team,” she said. “I worked a lot with my feet so that I can be an extra player in the back for my defenders. Not being able to train with the team was difficult at times but I tried to make the most out of what I had so that I could bring back to the team more than I left with.”
White will get to start her sophomore season off tomorrow when the Red Raiders host Baylor at John Walker Soccer Complex. Kickoff is set for 5:30 PM CT and the match will be live on ESPNU.