Former Penn Hills goalkeeper Autumn Blair reaching her goals at Waynesburg
When Autumn Blair committed to play soccer at Waynesburg, she knew it was going to be a battle for the starting goalkeeper position. After a strong camp, Blair earned the spot.
Blair’s collegiate career got off to a rough start when she gave up five goals in her first two matches. However, Blair has rebounded by allowing only four goals in her last five starts, including one shutout.
The shutout came against Muskingum, where Blair made seven saves in a 2-0 win for Waynesburg (2-7) on Sept. 11. In the following game, Blair made four saves in a 1-0 loss to Mount Aloysius on Sept. 14. The only goal came in the fourth minute of the match.
With her performance that week, Blair was selected as the Presidents Athletic Conference rookie of the week.
“It means a lot,” Blair said. “Going into college, I knew I wanted to do something in the PAC, accolade-wise. To be able to put in work during preseason, to be able to start, work towards that goal and to achieve part of that is really awesome.”
Through seven games, Blair has a 1.46 goals against average, which ranks third in the PAC, in over 555 minutes of action. Blair, has an .816 save percentage after making 40 saves, which ranks second in the PAC.
“It’s nice to be welcomed to a new team and be supported all the time,” Blair said. “Being competitive with two other goalkeepers really helps to step up my game. It has really been a fun experience.”
Blair, who was a three-time WPIAL all-section selection at Penn Hills, earned the starting goalkeeper position after beating out sophomore Emma Burns and freshman Kennedy Schuck. Blair has noticed a difference in the level of play.
“The pace of the game has picked up and the physicality,” she said. “It’s a lot more physical than high school. To be able to battle for the ball and push me to my limits is really awesome and I’m enjoying it a lot.”
Blair was thankful her coaches have faith in a freshman to be the starting goalkeeper.
“My coaches really support me as well as my teammates,” Blair said. “For my coaches to see, even though I’m a freshman, the ability to impact the team positively means a lot,” Blair said.
Blair has kept the Yellow Jackets in each game she has started, even though they lost six of the matches by a goal.
“As a goalkeeper, you’re always told to have the memory of a goldfish,” Blair said. “Whenever we get scored on, I know my mentality and what I project on the field definitely impacts the players in front of me.
“If I can remain positive even after giving up a goal, I think that really helps my teammates. I block it out until the end of the game where I can review to see what went wrong.”
Even with the close losses, Blair remains positive about how Waynesburg will perform when the team starts its PAC schedule.
“I’m really excited to see where we go,” Blair said. “These games are super competitive. To be able to have these close matches is really exciting. Hopefully I can make strives in the PAC.”
During the preseason, Waynesburg was selected to finish in sixth in the nine-team conference. Last season, Waynesburg finished sixth with a 7-7-2 overall record and a 3-5 conference record.