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Get to know Arizona soccer’s returners: Madison Goerlinger

Photo by Ryan Kelapire

We will be profiling Arizona soccer’s 13 returners before they return to campus in July. Next up: sophomore Madison Goerlinger.

Blink and you’ll miss her.

Before Madison Goerlinger was a key player for the Arizona soccer team, she was a track star at Villa Park High School in Orange, California where she holds the school records for sprint medley, 300-meter hurdles and 400-meter dash.

Goerlinger could have run track in college, but she turned down Division I and II offers so she could play soccer at Arizona.

She prefers team sports and, well, is the ultimate team player. Goerlinger proved that as a freshman when she showed a willingness to play any position. The left-footer started in 17 of 20 of Arizona’s matches, rotating between defender, midfielder and forward.

Goerlinger fired nine shots, netted two goals and is always buzzing around the ball as she zips up and down the left flank.

Should we mention the time she scored her first career goal just two minutes into her UA debut?

Her blend of speed and composure on the ball makes for an exciting combination.

“And I think she’s pretty underrated in the air too,” said sophomore goalkeeper Hope Hisey. “She’s able to get up and use her vertical, her athleticism to go and win balls against other big-time players. She and I are the sophomores with the most experience now, and so I feel like we can really use that in order to continue to elevate the team going forward.”

Here’s a Q&A with Goerlinger, who could start at a number of positions in 2020. Her answers have been lightly edited for clarity.

Ryan Kelapire: How do you think your freshman season went?

Madison Goerlinger: “It was definitely good. Being able to be versatile and move all over the field was definitely something that I was able to take advantage of. And since I played quite a bit, learning from all the mistakes that I did make and what I could contribute to the team’s success.”

RK: What did you learn?

MG: “It’s gonna be a roller coaster and you figure out your way through playing, making friends, being able to juggle everything like working out, school, traveling, everything. It was a great experience and being able to build off of what I was able to do my freshman year is going to help me in the future.”

RK: What’s the next step for you as a player?

MG: “I’m just hoping to see the field, trying to earn my spot again. I mean, nothing’s guaranteed. You still have to continue to work hard to get that spot that you want. I’ve been working really hard over this quarantine, so I hope to be able to turn that into success.”

RK: What have you been doing during quarantine?

MG: “I have been in quarantine with one of my neighbors and friends, and she also plays soccer. Having someone to help me and push me has been something that I’m really thankful for. We’ve been running, and I live on a hill, so we’re able to do hill sprints and working out like that. We’ve also been doing a lot of one-touch passing and cone drills and stuff that has helped me with my ball work and first touch. ... I’m working on long balls from out of the back and fitness.”

RK: When did you start playing soccer, and how did you get into it?

MG: “I started playing soccer when I was like 7 or 8. I played a lot of sports and my parents just wanted me to try it. I was playing up when I was younger, so I got a lot of experience through that. And then that was like the first club team that I played with, so I was able to learn throughout that and then improve and I kind of just stuck with it all throughout.”

RK: How did you become such a versatile player?

MG: “When I started, I was playing forward. And then one year, I think I was like 11, one of the girls tore her MCL and my coach was like, ‘okay, I think you could fit in as a left back.’ So then I started playing left back. And so then I’ve moved from left back to forward and everything. I was very lucky to be able to, because now I am very versatile.”

RK: What’s different about Pac-12 soccer?

MG: “Every conference is good, but I especially chose the Pac-12 because I think it is the most technical. It’s a lot of movement and technical work more on the ball than anything. I feel like if you look at one of our games from last year, you can see a lot of players that are now playing professionally.”

(This is true. 11 of the 36 players selected in the 2020 NWSL Draft attended Pac-12 schools, including the first four picks.)

RK: You ran track and also played softball in high school. How has being a multi-sport athlete helped you as a soccer player?

MG: “Track definitely helps me with being able to work on my form for running, being able to stay fit while doing that. Because I would go from track meet to soccer practice. It also helped with not getting burnt out. A lot of people are stuck on one sport for a very long time and could run out of interest. And just being able to make a bond with a bunch of other people instead of just soccer people makes you become a well-rounded person.”

RK: What drives you as a player and person?

MG: “There’s a lot of factors, but family is definitely one. I’m trying to have success for them because they have always had my back and always been there for me, traveling for soccer for softball, anything. I also have great support system with my friends and my teammates. They always push me to try and be the best.”

RK: Is there a player you admired growing up?

MG: “I was always obsessed with Alex Morgan. When I was younger, I would go to a bunch of the camps that she would hold. She was just the player growing up that I wanted to try and be. She set such a high (bar) as an Olympian and being able to perform.”

RK: What’s your early outlook for the 2020 season?

MG: “I’m very excited for the upcoming season. I really just want to get back on the field with all my teammates and prove that we are still the team that we are with the incoming freshmen. They are going to have to step up, but I believe that if they want to, they will because I think we have a very good incoming class. ... And I think our team has grown through the pandemic, through our Zoom calls, constantly keeping in touch and everything. I think our team chemistry is very good coming into summer workouts, and I hope that we can keep working and striving.”

RK: What is something cool or interesting about you that people should know?

MG: “I mean, I can ride a unicycle. I don’t know if that’s cool.”

RK: How does one decide to start riding a unicycle?

MG: “I don’t know. I got it for Christmas one year from my parents because they thought it would be cool. I learned how to ride it when I was like 10.”

RK: Is it difficult? It looks dangerous.

MG: “I think once you know how to do it, once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty easy. But it’s definitely difficult to learn. I had ski poles to help me try to keep my balance. I haven’t ridden it in a really long time, but I used to ride it a lot when I was younger.”

RK: What’s your major and what do you hope to do after college?

MG: “I’m still undecided. I’m still taking all of my gen-ed classes.”