Stillwater News Press

Sports

August 4, 2012

Cowgirl goalkeeper benefiting from international action

STILLWATER, Okla. — While the Oklahoma State women’s soccer team prepares to kick off the 2012 season this week, senior goalkeeper AD Franch keeps one eye on the field and one eye overseas.

The greatest netminder in OSU history can’t help but follow a group of women competing in the Olympics that she spent 10 days training with over the summer.

“All of us are watching the Olympics. I think they are good games for us to watch and learn from,” Franch said. “And we’ve talked about it as a team about the experience I had with (the U.S. National) team and what it was like.”

The Cowgirl goalkeeper earned a trip to the U.S. National Team training camp as one of 28 players and five goalies that held camp from May 10-25 — making her the first OSU player to earn a spot on the U.S. National Team roster.

“You’re only there for a week and all of them have been together for some time — compared to the 10 days I was there — but they were all welcoming and it was just a great environment to train in,” Franch said. “So it is cool to see that I trained with Olympians. Whether it was an hour or 10 days, it was really cool.”

Without a doubt, 10 days with a group of Olympians — who have also played in several World Cup tournaments — will be a great benefit for Franch.

“She said the other goalkeepers gave her pointers ... so she picked up little bits and pieces individually,” OSU coach Colin Carmichael said.

“And I think it just helped with her confidence level. She’s a very confident kid, but just like anybody, she wants to hear how well she’s doing and wants that pat on the back and a reward.”

And according to Carmichael, Franch has already been sharing her experience working with the national team on to her teammates at Oklahoma State.

“Team-wise, obviously she brings back all that great experience and is able to help our young players develop because of her opportunity to play with those elite athletes,” Carmichael said. “So it’s really been a win-win for everybody.”

Franch, who will turn 22 on Nov. 12, was the youngest goalkeeper on the women’s national team by five years — and nine years younger than Olympic keepers Hope Solo, who starts in net for Team USA, and Nicole Barnhart, Solo’s backup — and the second-youngest of any athlete on the New Jersey training camp roster.

“I use it as a great opportunity to learn and understand how many years I do have ahead of me and just try to learn from each of them as much as possible,” said Franch, who was constantly smiling when talking about her time working with the U.S. National Team.

The opportunity to work with the top level of women’s soccer in the United States is very unique for Franch. She was just one of three college athletes invited to New Jersey.

“The opportunity is invaluable. Not many college players get to experience that kind of training environment,” Carmichael said.

Franch was a backup keeper on the 2010 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Team and has continued to participate with the U.S. U-23 National squad.

Prior to joining the U.S. National Team in New Jersey, Franch was starting in net for the U.S. U-23 Women’s National Team the early part of 2012. Franch served as the goalkeeper when the U.S. won the Four Nations Tournament — which was played in Spain and featured Sweden, England and Norway along with the U.S. squad — with the OSU keeper pitching a pair of shutouts.

“Their style of when to attack or when to hold back is just a little bit different from the U.S. approach,” Franch said. “You’re always getting to learn different cultures of the game.”

While the experience has helped Franch grow, it has also helped get the Cowgirl brand out in the soccer world.

“When we’re recruiting now, if we talk to a coach who knows a little bit about our program, they say ‘Oh, you’ve done great with two Elite Eights and boy that goalkeeper of yours is good!’ So people know who she is and if you are talking to recruits — especially goalkeepers — they know who she is,” Carmichael said. “So when we go recruit that next big goalkeeper, they know that they have a chance to go to the top level out of Oklahoma State.

“Ten or 15 years ago, that was not the case. So that’s great for our program.”

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