Katie Meyer played hero for the Stanford women’s soccer team as they cruised to their third national championship title since 2011. She saved a crucial shot on a penalty kick versus UCLA in the semifinal, and again against UNC in a shootout in the final.
But Meyer didn’t make headlines for her incredible saves. She made them for her celebrations.
In particular, the media criticized her for getting in the face of UCLA forward Mia Fishel after blocking her penalty shot.
Although the media was quick to chastise, it may not have told the full story. Fishel and Meyer had a bubbling rivalry throughout the game. When UCLA scored earlier, Mia said something to Meyer, and Meyer responded after the penalty kick.
“It should have stayed on the field,” Meyer reflected.
“It’s all sports and it’s all competitive,” she continued. “It was nothing personal. It’s just sports.”
In my experience, it’s when athletes show their true emotions that sports become fun. Instead of acting stoically after big plays, many athletes now put up loud, in-your-face celebrations. Baseball’s got the bat flip. Football’s got touchdown celebrations. Men’s soccer’s got goal celebrations—many of which are quite elaborate. Each celebration draws people to the screen—and conversations at the water cooler.
Why should women’s soccer be any different?
“Our team is going to celebrate goals,” Meyer said. “Goals don’t happen often, so when they do happen, you should celebrate like it was your last one, because it could be.”
The Cardinal this year made 15% of their 660 shot attempts, which is a high number compared to their opponent’s combined 9% rate on only 133 attempts. It’s safe to say that goals are hard to come by in soccer.
It was particularly hard for Stanford’s opponents this year because of their intimidating defense and Meyer’s shot blocking abilities.
In her final save versus UNC, she jokes that she “used the force.”
My 2020 goal is to approach the world w/ @kdmeyer19 confidence, & as per @sportsiren: 'go after EVERYTHING as hard as Morgan Hentz goes after volleyballs.— Jackie Crespo (@CrespoJax) January 2, 2020
Go hard, give your all & bounce right back up.'
@StanfordWVB @StanfordWSoccer #GoStanford #homeofchampions #fierce pic.twitter.com/JUp2ObChjp
As a goalie, there’s not much you can do on penalty kicks, but as the season progressed, Meyer picked up on certain tells like foot placement and hip alignment. Even so, she still describes her uncanny ability to move where the ball is going as an “educated guess.”
Ultimately, Meyer wants to go as far as soccer will take her—she doesn’t know how far that might be—but she knows for certain that she wants to be President one day.
She already has the year 2036 picked out for her campaign.
One of the chief reasons she picked Stanford was so that she could grow as a person off the field.
“The best thing about being at Stanford is the people,” she mentioned. “There’s something special about being here when you know everyone is trying to excel in whatever they are doing. Whether you’re on the basketball team or trying to pass chemistry, you’re going to give it your all.”
For now, though, she is still a Stanford student-athlete. She’s putting her efforts into her international relations major and into soccer. She realizes that she could use her platform as an athlete to spread positivity into the world.
Meyer doesn’t lack confidence. She believes in her team, thinking they can repeat as national champions. She believes in herself, thinking that she can achieve whatever she puts her mind to.
Meyer still has three years left at Stanford. It’s safe to say that she’ll have a lot to celebrate.