Sandiford Ready To Protect Net, Nation

By Sarah Kezele

UCLA goalkeeper Chante' Sandiford began training to become an FBI special agent when she was 10 years old. Not that that was her plan—she was just guarding the goal.

But now that the 21-year-old is shooting for a career in federal law enforcement, she already has the upper hand: Even though one job conjures up images of all-black attire and holsters while the other invokes thoughts of sweaty ponytails and Mickey Mouse gloves, the two professions aren't all that different. Sandiford pointed out that both require patience, focus, courage, mental and physical strength, analytical skills and the ability to be two steps ahead of everyone.

"It's like goalkeeping with a gun," she said.

The redshirt senior took an interest in the field at an early age when she started watching crime shows on TV with her dad. The idea of being an agent fascinated her.

"I pictured myself kicking down doors and going in and arresting criminals," she said. "All-black FBI bullet-proof vest on, boots, the whole nine yards."

But Sandiford wasn't only interested in the glamour of an agent's work. She noticed how selfless these agents were, that they constantly risked their safety for something much bigger than themselves. That's what appealed to her most.

"I feel like I've always cared about other people over my own self," Sandiford said. "I care about other people's safety and giving them peace of mind. I just care a lot about people and their well being."

The third-year starter will complete her bachelor's degree in geography this December; then hopes to continue her soccer career in the Women's Professional Soccer league or in Europe while working toward a master's in criminal justice. After getting a couple years of work experience, Sandiford plans to apply for the FBI's special agent training program.

But before she can protect people on a federal level, she has to protect the net for the Bruins.

Sandiford and No. 15 UCLA opened up the 2011 season Aug. 19 with a shutout over Cal State Northridge, something the keeper is used to. She blanked eight teams last year and averaged 0.89 goals allowed per game in Pac-10 play, making her the third best net minder in the conference.

Sandiford hopes to improve on last year's performance, especially now that it's her final season as a Bruin and her last shot at an NCAA title.

"Every season I look at it as now or never, but now that it's my last year I want it more than any other year," she said. "If you want to win games, the other team can't score. I'm making that my goal for the season. We want to shut out every game. If not, we want to keep them to as little goals as possible. That's all I can do."

The Bruins head to Knoxville, Tenn., this weekend to face Tennessee and Florida in the Lady Vol Classic.

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