Vendetti makes it look easy
by Matthew Ondesko: Managing Editor
Photo: Geoff Schneider: Sports Union
They stand in the back, barking out orders to their back line throughout the game. When they are called upon a few times during the game, they are expected to make the big save.
Being a keeper is not the easiest position on the field. Some might disagree with you. They will tell you they just stand back there waiting for their opportunity to shine, maybe making a few saves a game.
But, there is a lot that goes into being a solid keeper. They are basically the captain of the defense, making sure everyone is in the right place at the right time.
St. Mary’s High School’s Caprianna Vendetti knows what it takes to be very good at her position. She has been manning the goal for the Lancers, helping them to Monsignor Martin titles and State Championship runs.
When she isn’t paying for the Lancers, she plays her club soccer for the Western New York Flash. Both teams give her a different environment to succeed in.
“Both environments I have really enjoyed playing with for coming up on four years. School soccer, we have been very successful and have made it to a state championship all years I have been a part of the program other than the COVID year. Team bonding is so important with Mary’s and Coach Britt and the team creates a family environment that I always look forward to playing and competing with,” stated Vendetti. “All of our games are hyped up, especially the big games which creates a new competitive feeling that you don’t get anywhere else but high school soccer. Flash has been a crucial part of my development over these years and we have been really successful. All of the girls are so competitive and fun to play with and our coach Rob Jackman has really helped us grow and succeed at the next level and make soccer a fun place to be. I have really been blessed to be a part of two great, competitive teams throughout my high school career.”
Whether she is playing for the Flash, or St. Mary’s, Vendetti knows the biggest part of the game is the mental side. She knows being right above the shoulders will go a long way to either a win or loss.
Vendetti knows that if she lets one in she can’t let that affect her the rest of the game. She needs to stay mentally tough and keep her team in the game when called upon.
“Being a goalkeeper, a big part of your job is staying mentally tough, no matter the score. If you get down on yourself or don’t have confidence in yourself to come up big when your team needs you, other players recognize that and take advantage of you,” explained Vendetti. “Always staying in the game mentally makes your team have a lot of trust and confidence in you and makes coming up big in important moments a lot easier.”
She also knows it’s not all about making a key save at the right time. There might be times where Vendetti doesn’t even touch the ball. But, she still needs to be engaged in the game.
She will be barking out orders to her defense. She will be keeping her teammates organized. You can pretty much call her a second coach on the field. Making sure her teammates are playing in the system that her coaches want them to play in.
“A lot of a keepers game doesn’t involve just directly making saves. You can be useful by talking to your back line and using your voice to say things that they may not see, and overall organizing and encouraging the players in front of you and over time you develop a trust with your team that helps win games,” stated Vendetti. “There definitely are games where I might not touch the ball at all but having the advantage of seeing the entire field makes the position of a keeper very valuable even when not making saves.”
Vendetti also knows that keepers need to be fearless. It’s just not about making the routine save. It’s about making the save in traffic. It’s about making a save when you are going up in the air, knowing that someone is at your feet.
As Vendetti goes up in the air, she has to show confidence. A non confident keeper will be hesitant and scored upon. Vendetti goes up strong. She knows anything in the box is hers. She knows there is going to be a lot of contact, but that won’t stop her from getting the job done.
“I’ve always believed you are as confident as you present yourself. Most times a forward will look at the opposing goalie and notice their flaws and if they see a goalie who seems very tentative and unconfident they will 100 percent take that opportunity and try to capitalize on it,” explained Vendetti. “I always try to present myself as confident and the most assertive person on the field which helps create a large presence for yourself in your box which makes it more likely for me to take control even with a lot of players in the box.
Vendetti has been working on her game ever since she started playing with GPS. She honed her skills with them before moving on to the Flash. Now, colleges are taking notice. Every time she goes to these college showcases, Vendetti knows all eyes are on her.
Sometimes it’s tougher for a keeper to shine at these showcases. They may only get a couple opportunities through a game to show the coaches what they are made off.
“It can definitely be difficult because some games you only have a handful of touches on the ball so I can definitely feel pressure to make those few moments perfect,” stated Vendetti. “The reality is, is that no one is a perfect player and while it's important to perform well, I feel it's just as important to show how you react to mistakes and learn from them because I have always believed that attitude is 50% of the game, especially as a keeper.”
Working hard, and proving herself, is nothing knew for Vendetti. She knows when she goes to college that nothing will be given to her. It’s tough for a lot of athletes to walk into college and not get the playing time right away.
In high school, players are used to being the best on that team. In college, it’s the best players from every high school, and not getting the playing time could affect a person mentality.
“Coming into college you are never promised a starting position or playing time and for a lot of people that can discourage you especially if you are used to starting and playing all the time,” stated Vendetti. “Always being a team player whether that is on the field or the bench can make you a great contributor. Also just getting used to the new environment and gaining confidence is something that will help yourself and your team as a keeper, who are always required to be leaders on the field.”