Klinkenberg: A leader on the rise

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Freshman goalkeeper Sarah Klinkenberg continues to deny any shot that comes her way.
Courtesy: Ken Williams

With 1074 minutes logged, 41 saves, and only four goals allowed so far this season, there is no questioning how freshman goalkeeper Sarah Klinkenberg has earned the title of PacWest Freshman of the Week on two separate occasions.

That’s right, APU has a freshman in the net. And yes, she has definitely been holding her own.

“She’s been outstanding for us; not only in her ability, but in her leadership, the quality of person she is, and the way she leads and lifts her teammates up,” said head coach Jason Surrell. “She doesn’t act like a freshman.”

The goalkeeper has played soccer from the age of 5, journeying from recreational soccer to club to three seasons of varsity in high school. However, filling a starting position early in her college career is a new experience for Klinkenberg, who did not get the starting position at Orange Lutheran High School until her senior year.

“It taught me the tenacity of hard work. Each day, knowing I wasn’t going to start, I’d come out and give it everything I had,” said Klinkenberg. “Then coming here and keeping that same attitude of ‘I’m just gonna do the best I can each day and [at] each practice,’ and then being rewarded with that spot as a freshman was all I could have dreamed of coming to play college ball.”

Senior defender Natalie Nick testifies to that very work ethic, calling Klinkenberg a “stud” when she first started.

“[At] every practice, since she is the only goalie who is healthy, she’s stepped up her game completely and has come up huge for us,” Nick said.

It is evident that Klinkenberg’s aspirations are not limited to her personal performance.

“I knew coming in that I had huge shoes to fill,” she said. “I want to become a good leader here and be a great influence to my teammates, encourage them every day and be a positive influence.”

Surrell describes Klinkenberg as a servant.

“She’s always looking out for the other person and she’s always caring for others,” Surrell said.

According to Nick, the freshman is always positive and a joy to be around.

“She is a quality person overall,” said Nick. “Her character is huge. It’s very consistent.”

Klinkenberg belongs to the class of 2013 freshmen who account for around half the women’s soccer roster, most of whom have already received playing time.

“It’s definitely a unique dynamic,” said Klinkenberg. “I think as a class we’ve shown that we’re great players and we want to do great things.”

The freshman attributes the virtual ease of the transition from high school to collegiate soccer for herself and her fellow classmates to the welcoming nature of the veterans.

“I’ve been really blessed by the seniors who play in the back to encourage me on and off the field,” said Klinkenberg.

In the same way, she has made a similar impact on her older teammates.

“Even though she’s young, she is such a leader and I feel very confident with her behind me,” said Nick.

With the four goals Klinkenberg has allowed, two were penalty kicks and the other two came from set pieces. Klinkenberg has not allowed one ball to pass her in the traditional flow of offense, securing the Cougars’ dominant record of 10-1-1 (8-0-1).