Madison Goerlinger recently trimmed 11 inches off her sandy blonde ponytail and donated it to Locks of Love, a non-profit that will weave it into a wig for a child in need.
“I’ve wanted to do it for two years now,” she said. “Someone probably needs it more than I do.”
And, hey, maybe shedding all that hair will give her a speed boost on the soccer field.
“We’ve had one practice, but it’s definitely lighter,” Goerlinger said. “It’s crazy how big of a difference it is.”
The former track star has sprinted out to an impressive start to her collegiate career. Through six games, the Arizona freshman has made five starts and played the fourth-most minutes on the team (400), buoying a defense that has posted five clean sheets.
On a team loaded with experienced players, it says a lot that Goerlinger has already earned substantial playing time. Only one other freshman—goalkeeper Hope Hisey—can say the same.
“I think a lot of it is how she’s built,” junior forward Jada Talley said of Goerlinger. “She’s tall, she’s fast, she’s really good in the air, and I think those are three really good components of getting yourself on the field. And then you mix that with soccer—she’s good on the ball—I feel like that put her ahead of some of the people in her class.”
The 5-foot-8 Goerlinger has also contributed a pair of goals, including the very first tally of Arizona’s season, which came less than two minutes into the opener against Weber State when she headed in a corner kick.
“One of them was a set piece, which shows her toughness and willingness to get in there and attack the ball,” Arizona coach Tony Amato said. “One was on a through ball where she showed a ton of composure on her left foot to slide it home. So she is athletic, she is fast, but there’s a lot more to her game than that.”
Like her versatility. The Wildcats, who are 5-1 and wrap up non-conference play Saturday vs. TCU, have used Goerlinger as an outside back, outside midfielder, and center midfielder so far.
Amato said she is “the kind of player you can move around with what you need in that particular game.”
“Madison is an amazing player to me,” said forward Brooke Wilson. “She’s from California, so I have a little Cali love for her, but she never gives up and I noticed her in our first captain’s practice because she was just so fast. And then with her composure on the ball, it just makes a phenomenal player.”
One who is an ideal fit for Arizona’s high-press defense, which calls for relentless ball pressure. The long-legged speedster can cover lots of ground and close gaps in the blink of an eye.
“We knew she was going to be athletic enough and I think she fits really well with what we’re trying to do,” Amato said. “With freshmen, you don’t always know mentally if they’re tough enough in the first year to handle it all, but early here she’s shown she’s been able to do that and I think she’ll keep getting better.”
Goerlinger holds Villa Park High School’s records in the sprint medley, 300-meter hurdles, and 400-meter dash. The Orange, California native picked up track in high school. The sport complements what she does on the soccer field, where her role often requires her to bolt up and down the left sideline.
“Having track and soccer really helped me with my form of running,” said Goerlinger, who played club ball with LAFC Slammers. “I have a lot of stamina and being able to have high intervals of sprints is really helpful.”
Goerlinger was recruited by Navy and other Division I and II schools for her track talent, and though she would not rule out joining Arizona’s track team, she did not sound overly enthused about the idea either.
“It’s really an individual sport, and I like having a team sport and having everyone’s support,” she said.
So...what about suiting up for Mike Candrea and Arizona softball? Goerlinger was a stellar baserunner in high school, after all.
“It could be a possibility,” she smiled. “We’ll see.”
Amato, knowing how valuable Goerlinger is to his team’s immediate and distant future, provided a more definitive answer.
“I think she would love to run the bases, but we’re not opening that door right now,” he laughed, then looked into the camera. “Candrea, don’t listen to this. We didn’t mention it.”
Former track star Madison Goerlinger talks about Arizona Soccer’s upcoming match vs. TCU, her speed, donating her hair to Locks of Love, and morePosted by AZ Desert Swarm on Friday, September 20, 2019
If you want to donate to Locks of Love and/or learn more about the organization, click here.