At the combine for the Olympic Development Program, which mines the best soccer talent from across the country, each of the elite goalkeepers invited to attend had a quality that made them stand out.
One goalkeeper had incredible jumping ability. Another was aggressive.
Sycamore’s Drew Moulton said her own ability to bounce back from mistakes and lead a team from the deepest position on the field made her stand out.
“I don’t ever give up,” Moulton said. “If I ever have a bad rep, I’ll just come back and do it better the next time. I’m always pushing harder to get better, and I’m always the really positive one that’s cheering everyone else on that’s slightly annoying, you wish she would shut up but she’s cheering you on.”
The junior from Sycamore stood out enough at the combine to make Illinois’ top team, which recently competed against Minnesota and Indiana to qualify for the national tournament next March.
Moulton trains with the ODP team anywhere from one to three times a month on weekends and was one of 18 players chosen for the 1997 team.
Moulton played for Sycamore her freshman year, but she only competed for her club team, Eclipse, last spring to prepare herself for her junior year, which some could deem the most important year for college recruiting.
While she’s learned plenty from playing with Eclipse, a suburban club, she said the chance to play sporadically with the ODP team has accelerated her growth.
“I feel like it helps me a lot and I’ve come a long way through the ODP process over the past two years because you get to practice with a lot more diverse players,” Moulton said. “You get used to the girls on your club, and it’s nice to take a step away from that and play with girls that play different formations and different levels of play.
“It’s fun and helpful and you learn a lot playing with these girls because you have to adapt more, and I love it. It’s probably one of the best experiences I’ve done.”
During her two years in ODP, she’s risen from the second Illinois team to the first Illinois team. The next step for Moulton would be to make the regional team, and she hopes to continue that progression next year.
“When I first started on ODP, I just wanted to try something new that looked like a fun thing,” she said. “But growing more in ODP, it makes me want to get to the next level, because every year I’ve gotten better. Last year I made the second state team and this year I made the first state team. Hopefully, next year I can make the region team and just keep building on the experiences.”