A model of consistency: Q&A with Pitt goalie Taylor Francis


Senior goalie Taylor Francis has started 42 straight games for the Panthers entering the 2016 season. Stephen Caruso / Visual Editor

By Phoebe Gilmore / Staff Writer

In soccer, having a stable presence at the goal is a critical factor to how a team functions and performs. For the Pitt women’s soccer team, senior goalkeeper Taylor Francis has been that reliable last line of defense since the beginning of her college career.

Francis has made 42 starts in a row for the Panthers dating back to her first season, when she started the final six games in goal. She started all 18 games the past two seasons, and tied a school record with 16 saves in a game vs. Florida State on Oct. 18, 2014.

In between juggling hobbies like dancing, backpacking and white-water rafting with a full schedule of classes, Francis –– a biology major and chemistry and economics minor –– always finds a way to take her familiar spot in front of Pitt’s net.

The Pitt News caught up with Francis to talk about the responsibilities of being a keeper, taking on an added role as a senior leader and goals for her final season at Pitt and beyond.

The Pitt News: When did you first realize you might be good enough to play in college?

Taylor Francis: Probably when I was in sixth grade.

TPN: Have you always played keeper? Did you have another favorite position to play growing up and why?

Francis: No … I used to be an outside mid or back. I love to still play there just because it’s fun for all the pressure to not always be on your back and you have the freedom to just kind of run around and be involved in every play.

TPN: Being from Cary, North Carolina, what made you choose to come to Pitt over another university?

Francis: I just loved everything about Pitt, from the academic opportunities to the athletic ones. It just immediately felt like home to me, which is weird to say because it is so far from my family and everything that I knew when I was in high school.

TPN: What are the strongest parts of your game and what are some things that you need to improve?

Francis: The strongest part of my game is definitely shot stopping and reading the game so that I can organize my team [to] eliminate many goal-scoring opportunities. But I am constantly working on my aerial game, being that I am on the shorter side.

TPN: What parts of your game have changed since coming to Pitt?

Francis: I have definitely become more mature in my approach to the game and in my mindset as well as increasing the amount of my goal I can cover.

TPN: It’s your senior year –– what have you learned, athletically and otherwise, since coming to Pitt?

Francis: I’ve learned not to take anything for granted because everything is temporary. Things can be taken away from you as quickly as they are given so you have to make the most of what you have while you still have it.

TPN: Goalkeeper is naturally a position of leadership in soccer –– does your leadership take on an added role now as a senior being one of the most experienced players on the team?

Francis: Definitely. Being a senior and the second oldest player on the team, it’s my job to set an example for the younger girls coming in who will definitely need help and guidance through their journey. So it’s my role to help them out any way I can and use my experience to help them out any way possible.

TPN: What does it mean to you personally to hold the school record for saves in a game?

Francis: Well, this is a tricky question … while it sounds like an impressive statistic and it’s kind of cool to talk about, as a team [it’s] not a great statistic to have. I’d rather not hold that record just because that would mean hopefully that as a team we’re more successful in letting less goal scoring opportunities occur. That being said, it is awesome that I could hold that record meaning that I helped my team let way less goals in than were shot on target.

TPN: What has been your proudest soccer achievement or moment at Pitt?

Francis: Probably my proudest moment as a player here was the away game at UNC sophomore year. After the game I had a group of 10 or so little girls come up to me all with their UNC gear on and ask me for my autograph and talk to me about how they were so impressed with everything … one of them told me she wanted to be just like me one day, and that was just an incredible feeling.

TPN: What are your plans after graduation?

Francis: I plan on trying to play pro in Europe for a year or two and then going to dental school.

TPN: What are your goals and expectations for the upcoming season?

Francis: To finish in the top eight of the ACC and to make both the ACC Tournament and the NCAA Tournament. I think we have a team that can make it happen. We certainly have all the pieces, it’s just a matter of putting it all together and believing we can do it.

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