CHEYENNE – Jil Turner insists she isn’t in a race to replace Ellie Bowman as Laramie County Community College’s goalkeeper.
“I could never replace Ellie,” said the sophomore from Peyton, Colorado. “She was so good, and she is someone I look up to so much. I asked her for a lot of guidance and help when I moved back to keeper this spring.
“I am just trying to play well and win the job.”
Bowman was the only goalkeeper listed on the Golden Eagles’ roster last season. She posted 60 saves and 10 shutouts in 19 matches, earning second team All-Region IX honors and helping LCCC reach the National Junior College Athletic Association tournament.
Turner was listed as a defender, but she would have played keeper had something happened to Bowman. In fact, Turner grew up playing keeper before moving to defense during her junior year of high school. She eventually moved back to net as a senior.
“The only video I had to send out to colleges was as a defender, so that’s how I ended up playing defense last season,” Turner said.
Turner has shown a great deal of improvement since spring practice. She was able to pick Bowman’s brain before Bowman returned to her native England to start her coaching career.
Turner also benefited from a couple days at LCCC goalkeeper’s coach Kay Olivas’ summer camp.
“Having (Olivas) pound on me and push me and make me better has brought out so much confidence,” Turner said. “I never had keeper training because I never played club soccer. (Olivas’) camp was the hardest thing I have done with goalkeeping, but it was so rewarding.”
Eagles coach Jim Gardner said he has noticed Turner’s hard work pay off.
“I have seen a lot of improvement and a lot more confidence,” he said. “She is athletic, and is a good keeper, she just hasn’t had the opportunity to play much.”
Freshman Larissa Sitzler has been pushing Turner through the first week-plus of practice.
“She is taller and has played the position her whole life,” Gardner said of the Hamburg, Germany, product. “She played at a high level in Germany, but she had an injury that helped her fly under the radar. (Siltzer) is a good keeper, and I’m excited to have her.”
Sitzler suffered a torn labrum in her right shoulder, which sidelined her for most of 2017. She returned to the pitch 18 months ago but says her shoulder is still a work in progress.
“I feel like I’m holding back sometimes, but I feel good,” she said. “I will never have the same movement in my shoulder that I did before I had the injury, but it’s not keeping me from playing well in the goal.”
Sitzler said she has enjoyed her brief time at LCCC but is still adjusting.
“This is a really high level of soccer, and it’s taking some time to get used to the training and the schedule,” she said. “All of the girls are amazing. It’s fun to watch them and try to get to that level.
“It’s been an amazing experience so far. Everyone here is so nice and so supportive even when you have a tough time. Everyone is there for each other.”
LCCC is hosting a soccer alumni day Saturday. The women’s match starts at 11 a.m., followed be the men’s match.
There will be a free cookout open to the public during the matches.
More than 60 former women’s players, and as many as 50 former men’s players, are expected to attend.