Emma Goecker said she was nearing the end of her junior soccer season at Trinity Lutheran High School when she knew wanted to play college soccer.
She turned that aspiration into reality recently when she signed a letter of intent to play at Midway University, a school located in Midway, Kentucky, between Lexington and Frankfort.
Midway is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, or NAIA.
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Goecker said being able to play soccer in college is absolutely a dream come true.
“Soccer has always been my thing,” she said.
She was named the Cougars’ most valuable player her junior and senior years and was named the Indiana Soccer Coaches Association Top Team Player in 2017.
Last fall, Goecker earned Lutheran All-American Association honorable mention in 2018 and was named to The Tribune all-county team in 2019. She was the co-leader in assists in Jackson County in 2019.
Goecker received a senior award in helping the Cougars post a record of 9-7. She was a four-year starter and played center mid and center back throughout her career.
“Last fall, if the opponents got the ball past our midfield defense, Flossie (Cooper) or I would steal it or clear it and keep it out of the goal,” Goecker said of how the team’s defense worked.
Trinity Lutheran girls soccer coach Thom Hayes said he has had some conversations with Midway women’s soccer coach Sherrill Smith and liked what he heard about the Eagles’ program. Midway was 9-8-1 last fall.
“Their coach contacted me a couple months ago,” Hayes said. “I think Midway will be a good place for Emma to play from what I heard about their program. Emma scored a few goals and had quite a few assists for us last season.”
Hayes began coaching Goecker when she was in elementary school and was impressed by how she matured into a multifaceted high school player.
“I coached her since she was 6 or 7,” Hayes said. “I’ve enjoyed coaching her, and it was a pleasure to see her grow into the leader she has become.”
Goecker said she liked her recruiting visit to see Midway, and the school made a strong impression on her.
“I visited the college before spring break, and I really liked it,” she said. “It’s not too far from home, and they have a beautiful campus. Their coach is amazing. I really enjoyed my visit there.”
Goecker plans on majoring in marketing and graphic design with a minor in business.
Soccer has played a large role in Goecker’s life almost from the time she could run.
“I started playing soccer in the Seymour rec leagues when I was 4, and I started playing travel soccer (Cyclones) when I was 8,” she said. “I really appreciated all the coaches who have helped me grow throughout my career. I give a lot of credit to them. I’ve met a lot of good people playing soccer. I’ve made a lot of friends, a lot of good memories. I’ve had a blast.”
Goecker also started on the Trinity Lutheran basketball team at guard last winter, helping the Cougars win a sectional title and set the school record for wins. She also received a Cougar Award and senior award.
This spring would have been her third year as a member of the Trinity track and field team, but spring sports were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Goecker said she hopes to receive a summer conditioning program to aid her in preparing for a college program.
High school matches consist of two 40-minute halves, while college soccer is made up of two 45-minute halves, but Goecker said she doesn’t expect to have any trouble adjusting to the longer matches.
The Midway Eagles are in the River States Conference. The conference is made up of 12 schools located in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, plus Indiana Kokomo, Indiana East and Indiana Southeast.
Hayes believes Goecker has the traits to succeed at a higher level of play.
“Emma is a very fierce competitor and always gave 110%,” he said. “She worked hard and had a competitive drive.”