With nine overall wins and the top spot in the Ivy League standings, the Columbia women’s soccer team is enjoying a successful 2010 campaign. Without junior goalkeeper Lillian Klein, such achievements may not have been possible.
In her second year as the Lions’ number one starter, Klein has emerged as a force not just within her team but also within the conference. In games through Oct. 18, she leads all Ivy players in goals-against average (0.58), save percentage (0.887), saves (63), and shutouts (7).
For a player who has tasted nothing sweeter than a third-place finish in the league, Klein is competing like a champion.
“She was determined to raise the level of her game to greater heights, and she put in the work,” head coach Kevin McCarthy said. “It’s not that she didn’t always do it, [but] she put in a lot of work since the end of last season. And now you can see that not just in the statistics, but in the confidence she plays with.”
That confidence is something that Klein focused on elevating.
“I think being a little bolder in terms of coming off my line was definitely something I was struggling with at the end of last year,” she said. “I think I’ve gotten better at that.”
But Klein has improved statistically as well. In 2009, she allowed 17 goals in 14 games. This year, she has yielded just eight goals in 13 matches.
“I am so comforted knowing that I have the best goalie in the league playing behind me,” senior defender Kelly Hostetler said. “It just gives such a level of confidence to our defensive line, because we know we have this amazing goalie backing us up.”
On Sept. 13, Klein earned Ivy Player of the Week honors after posting shutouts against Iona, Fordham, and Stony Brook. She also was selected as the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Division I Defensive Player of the Week for her efforts.
When the Lions hosted Hofstra—currently ranked 22nd in the nation—on Sept. 17, Klein did not allow a goal until midway through the contest’s second overtime. She made a career-high 13 saves in the match.
“It was definitely one of the most action-packed games I’ve ever played, personally,” Klein said. “It was just a test of what we could do, and we really held them off for a really long time.”
Klein played every minute of the Lions’ first 13 contests. The only match in which she did not see action was Monday’s game at Manhattan. Senior Lindsay Danielson, in her return from injuries, made the start.
“She did an amazing job,” Klein said. “I’m really happy about it.”
Klein will be back in goal when Columbia hosts Dartmouth this weekend. On Oct. 16, the Lions climbed to the top of the Ivy standings with an emphatic 2-0 home win over Princeton. While Klein only had to make four saves, she earned her seventh shutout.
“She really is such a strong last line of defense,” McCarthy said. “Her game has grown tremendously from her first two seasons, and our team has been the beneficiary of that.”
The only times when Klein’s teammates do not benefit from her abilities are when they try to score on her in practice. Even then, her saves are not entirely devastating.
“I get so frustrated, but at the same time, I’m so happy,” Hostetler said. “Because I know in a game the same thing’s going to happen, but in a game, she’s always on my team.”