Colleen Boyd: A Brick Wall At OSU
By Brian Anthony Price
With an anchor like Colleen Boyd defending the net, it's no wonder the Oregon State women's soccer team is 15-1-1, unbeaten in Pac-10 play and facing top-ranked Stanford on Friday with the conference championship on the line.
Simply put, Boyd is one of the best in the country. The junior has a goals against average of .46 and is seventh in the nation with a save percentage of .887 and has played every minute in goal this season for the Beavers. She's a primary reason why Oregon State has climbed to a No. 13 ranking.
The fact that she is six-feet-tall and has been playing since she was four has helped her blossom into a dominant goaltender. With all of the energy she displayed as a child, her mother figured out a way to channel it properly.
"As a kid I could never sit still," Boyd said. "If we were waiting outside of a restaurant, I would pick a spot, run there and back and have my father time me. Then I would try to beat my previous time. My mom figured soccer would be a good fit for me."
Playing goalie was an even better fit. Boyd has always been tall, and at the age of 10, she was taller than most of the boys in her class. She decided to give the goalkeeper position a shot, and she discovered that she loved the rush of having the game in her hands.
"It's such a different position and it also means I'm in control in a variety of situations," she said. "I was also drawn to the adrenaline that came from playing goalie."
Once she found her calling, she set her sights on playing in college, even when she was in elementary school.
"Since I was 10, I knew I wanted to play soccer in college," Boyd said. "One of my elementary school P.E. teachers recently told me how cool it was to see me playing now and remembering me as a fourth grader on the asphalt blacktop. Even back then I would tell him: 'I just want you to know that I'm going to play Division-I soccer someday.'"
A native of Southern California, Boyd attended La Cañada High School. When it came to making her college selection, she was initially hesitant to leave her comfort zone.
"I had no interest in Oregon State or going to school in Oregon, but I figured I should at least give it a chance," she said. "I visited OSU and it was crazy because as soon as I stepped on the campus, it was an instant feeling: this is where I'm supposed to be. I just basically told them: 'I'm in.' It was a pretty simple process."
Success soon followed. With Boyd in net as a sophomore, the Beavers recorded the best season in school history, posting a 14-8-1 mark and advancing to the NCAA tournament for only the second time in school history.
The Beavers have built on last year's success, compiling a record of 15-1-1, the most wins in the history of the program. Through 17 games last season, the Beavers were 10-6-1.
The seasoned defensive line is made up of Ashley Seal, Ashley Folsom, Milan Cabrera and Brittany Galindo. All of them have helped OSU rack up the fourth best goals-against average in the nation at .406. The next best Pac-10 team is Stanford at .539.
Boyd is quick to credit the defense for much of her own success.
"I trust [my teammates] completely, and because of them I'm only having to make 2 or 3 saves a game," she said.
The highlight of 2010's stellar season thus far was when Boyd posted back-to-back shutouts against nationally-ranked USC and UCLA on her way to being named the NCSAA player of the week on October 20. Her shutout against UCLA was her ninth of the season, which broke the OSU single-season record. She has since increased her record to 13 shutouts.
With a strong defensive unit in front of her, Boyd often goes 20-30 minutes without seeing any action.
"Getting bored was actually one of the reasons in high school that I thought I didn't want to play goal," she said. "I wanted to be out there knocking people over, but as I matured I learned to appreciate soccer as a mental game. At the end of the match everybody has bumps and bruises and can barely walk, whereas I just feel like I need to pass out because my brain is fried from staying focused that whole time."
A challenge for the Beavers has been finding ways to score early in matches. OSU has scored 32 goals this season, 23 of which have come in the second half. The early scoring deficiencies have not been a factor thus far as opponents have only scored on the Beavers 7 times this season.
With top-ranked Stanford waiting, getting some early offense could be valuable for Oregon State.
"It would be nice to step our game up, score early and get on the board to make Stanford a little nervous," Boyd said.
The Beavers are 7-0 in Pac-10 play this year and are riding a 10-game winning streak. Bringing that streak to 11 on the road against the top team in the country will mean a huge step forward for the program. Boyd appreciates the significance of Friday's matchup.
"It's for the Pac-10 Championship," head coach Linus Rhode said. "It's the first time we've ever been in that type of situation as a program. Stanford is the No. 1 team. They haven't lost a game this year, so it should be a great environment to go down there and play."
It may be a first for Oregon State, but Boyd and her teammates are ready to answer the call.
"Everybody is pumped up and ready to go," Boyd said. "We're not scared. We respect them, but it's key for us to know that we're just as good. We're preparing like it's any other game. We're focused and we're ready."