Consistency and Julia Lisella, A Recipe For Success At CU
BOULDER – Hank Aaron said, "Consistency is what counts. You have to do things over and over again."
He easily could have been talking about Colorado goalkeeper Julia Lisella who has been one of the most consistent players not only for the Buffs but nationally in the course of the last four years.
The Littleton, Colo. native is finishing up her sixth year of eligibility at CU, a commitment she definitely did not expect when she signed to play for the Buffaloes, but one that she is happy to have.
"Initially I signed up to be here for four years and then with my redshirt year, which I was super excited about, that time clock changed to five years," she explained. "Then with COVID and the NCAA granting an extra year, I was fully committed to a sixth year. It was easy and difficult at the same time. I'm glad to be back and play the sport that I love for one more year."
A four-year starter for the Buffaloes, Lisella has posted similar numbers each year. She is an athlete coaches love to have on the team because they know what they are going to get, both in practice and in games.
"Julia is just such a special player and it's not often you get to have a player for six years and watch them grow and have your team grow with them," CU head coach Ann Elliott Whidden said. "Obviously Julia had a huge breakout season her first year competing for us and we know what she is capable of. She's always consistent. You always know what you're going to get on a day-to-day basis and some days you get even more."
During the 2018 season, Lisella earned the starting position and went on to record IWLCA and Inside Lacrosse Goalkeeper of the Year honors. She was the first CU goalkeeper to earn those awards and was also the first to be named a first team All-American by the IWLCA. She averaged 9.17 saves per game with a 50.3 saves percentage and allowed 9.34 goals per game while earning a 13-4 record.
In 2019, she helped CU to an 11-8 record and recorded a 47.0 save percentage while making 9.07 saves per game and allowing 10.19 goals per game. Although there were only five games played in 2020, the Buffs started 3-2 and her numbers were again similar with a 48.4 save percentage, 9.20 saves per game while allowing 10.40 goals per game.
With Lisella's consistency, there is no surprise to see this season's numbers are right in line with those other three. Named the 2021 Pac-12 Defender of the Year Wednesday, she is leading the Pac-12 in saves per game (10.31), save percentage (49.1) and goals-against (10.64). She has recorded a league-leading 134 saves this year and recorded her 500th career save on April 29 against Denver, a mark that would be hard to reach without a high level of consistency.
Even when she is not in net, Lisella is always trying to be a steady leader for the team, especially in a year like this one that has so many obstacles.
"I always try to lead by example and to do the right things on and off the field," Lisella said. "I bring my authentic self to everything I do and I'm going to do what is best and put the team first so we can be successful. I think that process has never changed for me. My role and what I bring to the team have never changed. It's different being the oldest one on the team, but at the end of the day it's my job to leave an impact on this program and on the younger girls, so I've taken it upon myself to try to mentor them to leave them in the best position to be successful when my time here ends."
The first two seasons Lisella was at CU, she spent time learning from the two elder goalkeepers Paige Soenksen and Sophia Gambitsky. But now Lisella is the leader and has a younger group of goalies she has been helping along, just like Soenksen and Gambitsky did with her. One will need to step in and fill in for her like she had to do for Soenksen in 2018, but Lisella has no doubt whoever is selected will make her proud.
"It's important we continue to have a strong goal squad and that starts with [assistant coach] Mitch (Fenton) as our coach," Lisella said. "He's an incredible part of this program and is really instrumental to the goalies' success. I would not be the goalie I am without him."
Consistency does not just happen. But when it is there, it's something and someone to count on.
Lisella will graduate this May from CU with a degree in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences. She would like to do some traveling and see the world, depending on COVID, do some coaching and look for job opportunities. But don't be surprised if she is back in the classroom at some point as she plans to go to graduate school for speech pathology and audiology.
LISELLA'S NCAA CAREER COMPARISON
|Year||GAA (rk)||Save % (rk)||Sv/gm (rk)||Gms|
|2021||10.65 (28th)||49.1 (14th)||10.31 (13th)||13|
|2020||10.40 (29th)||48.4 (30th)||9.20 (40th)||5|
|2019||10.19 (19th)||47.0 (28th)||9.06 (37th)||19|
|2018||9.34 (7th)||50.3 (10th)||9.17 (31st)||20|