Aug. 30, 2012
By Matthew Pearce, UGA Sports Communications
ATHENS, Ga. --- Goalkeeper is unlike any other position in soccer – a position that requires patience both on and off the field. Georgia’s back up keeper, Caitlin Woody, knows this better than most.
The redshirt sophomore from Boca Raton, Fla., has spent her first three years at Georgia behind England U-23 international goalkeeper and Bulldogs captain Ashley Baker. Having waited her chance, Woody was reward with the start against South Dakota State on Aug. 26. She produced a memorable performance, shutting out the Jackrabbits for her first career shut out.
“Playing in the fall and having your first big start and having it in the books, it was nerve-wracking,” Woody said. “I’m really glad it happened and that I got the opportunity to do it.”
Woody made three saves in the game, which was only her second regular season appearance – the first a 30-minute cameo against Georgia State in 2011. Previously Woody had played twice in Georgia’s spring season when Baker had travelled overseas to play for the English national team.
Having to wait so long for the opportunity, while part of the job, has at times proven difficult for her.
“When you come into a situation where you have a world-class goalkeeper like Ashley Baker ahead of you, your time might be more down the road than you would like it. I think early on for Caitlin that was a bit of a struggle,” said Georgia’s goalkeepers coach Jonathan Harvey. “She was fortunate enough that, when Ashley went overseas in the spring, Caitlin was able to get those minutes and become confident and get those games. I think that she would tell you that those games in the spring were invaluable for her.”
Though it would be easy to understand a frustration with her lack of playing time, nothing could be further from the truth.
“Do you want to be in a good team that has competition or do you want to go to another team where you’re going to start?” Woody said. “For me starting behind Baker, I feel like I have improved tremendously even though I haven’t played that much. Just being in training and waiting for my opportunity is a great opportunity to begin with.”
In her senior season, Baker said that having Woody as a back up is comforting, should she succumb to injury or miss time for any other reason. She also said that the relationship between the two is a benefit to them both of them.
“I think it’s awesome. I love it, it pushes me every day,” Baker said. “Just to have that competition but also to have that great relationship and the positive attitude towards each other. We’re not pushing each other or yelling at each other, we’re just trying to both get each other better for when that time does come.”
Woody said she knows and appreciates that her time in the Georgia goal will come. Until it does, she intends to make the most of working with her senior teammate and captain.
“[Baker] trains you hard in practice because she wants you to be good. Not only to train her, but to train yourself and to get ready for that position,” Woody said. “It’s great there’s competition with it, I have experience watching her in every game and seeing what she does.”
“It’s just a patient wait. My time will come.”