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Record breaking UB goalkeeper Laura Dougall steps up as a leader for UB women’s soccer

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When the final seconds fell away from the clock at Thursday night’s UB women’s soccer game, junior goalkeeper Laura Dougall cemented her place in the history of UB athletics and she didn’t even know it.

“I honestly didn’t know that, it wasn’t on my mind going into the game, that wasn’t something I even thought of because I don’t really focus on the stats,” Dougall said. “I was just kind of in shock for a second because, junior year, coming in here, I wasn’t expecting to break a career shutout record.”

With a clean sheet on Thursday, as the UB Bulls (2-2-2) tied the Brown Bears (2-0-1) 0-0 at UB Stadium, Dougall collected the 22nd shutout of her career, breaking UB women’s soccer 15-year old record for career shutouts. As the stats continue to pile up for Dougall, who is also seven games away from breaking UB’s record for wins by a goalie, it’s her experience and leadership that is making all the difference for UB women’s soccer.

“I can’t get these records without [my teammates and coaches], my defense has been amazing the past two years that I’ve been here,” Dougall said.

Just two years ago, Dougall played a prodigy role as the freshman goaltender on the 2014 MAC Championship winning team. Now, with a very different roster around her, she’s stepping into a new role – team leader.

“We’re noticing now as a junior, she has a little bit more experience and she’s taken more of a vocal leadership role,” said head coach Shawn Burke. “She’s organizing, trying to sort things out before it gets to her, obviously being that last line of defense, it’s nice to see that maturity in her.”

Part of being a leader is not only being there to praise her teammates when they do something right, but also being there to tell them when they’re doing it wrong.

“As a teammate, Laura is extremely helpful and interactive. She is the first person to pull you aside and tell you what you could do better or what you have been doing well,” said senior defender Angel Hart. “Overall she is definitely a leader on our team and keeps the back line and ultimately the team together.”

As a freshman two years ago, Dougall played goalie for just the third ever unbeaten season in the MAC going 9-0-2 in conference play. They also finished with the best record in UB women’s soccer history going 16-3-3. Dougall appeared in 21 games that season, starting 20 and allowing only 12 goals all year. She recorded 13 shutouts in that first year, none more important than in the MAC championship game, when the Bulls defeated the Western Michigan Broncos to claim the program’s first MAC title.

“Hopefully we can [win a MAC Championship] again this year. These personal stats aren’t things I’m super-worried about,” Dougall said. “Getting these shutouts means the team is doing well so that part of it is nice, but the MAC championship is the ultimate goal at the end of all this.”

With Dougall in goal, the expectation is always a MAC Championship for the Bulls.

“Our expectation every single year is to be playing in late November. It’s pretty cut and dry, it’s why the girls decide to come here and the players know that’s what we’re playing for,” Burke said. “We have to take care of all the little details today to give [ourselves] that opportunity, but we fully expect as a program every single year to be playing late in November, competing for that MAC championship.”

Even though this is a tremendous personal accomplishment, Dougall is the first to credit the record to the team around her.

“I can’t get these records without [my teammates and coaches], my defense has been amazing the past two years that I’ve been here,” Dougall said.

“The whole team is so proud of her setting the record for most shutouts in a career but also not surprised at all,” Hart said. “She is such a talented goalie and deserves every accolade and achievement that she receives. It is amazing that she is only a junior and still has so much more to give to this program.”

Giving to the program seems to be a major theme for the team. Everyone is willing to forget individual accolades in pursuit of team accomplishments, namely the MAC title.

“[The MAC title] affected the entire team… it was very exciting, that was very emotional,” Dougall said. “Whenever someone asks me to explain it, it’s so hard for me to put into words because it was just so emotional.”

Her commitment to the team has allowed her to grow this season. Her confidence and experience has allowed her to take on more of a leadership role that both her teammates and coaches have taken notice of.

The Bulls next game is Sept. 9 against Canisius. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at UB Stadium.

Daniel Petruccelli is a sports staff writer and can be reached at sports@ubspectrum.com.


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