Women's Soccer

Senior goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan has quietly excelled in net for SU

Josh Shub-Seltzer | Contributing Photographer

Courtney Brosnan led the ACC in saves her sophomore year and made a career-high 93 saves her junior year. But all she has to show for it is one ACC Co-Defensive Player of the Week

Courtney Brosnan walked back toward the locker room from Syracuse Soccer Stadium in her highlighter-blue uniform. It was a late August afternoon, hours before a nonconference game, when the senior goalkeeper would blank Cornell and exit early because Syracuse put on cruise control.

As she enters the last season of her SU career, she can’t help think of the NCAA tournament appearance she’s never made.

“Achieving that would be…” Brosnan said, smiling. She paused and looked off into space.

For Syracuse (4-1-1), which hasn’t finished with more than eight wins since joining the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2013, that may seem like a far-off goal: The lowest ACC seed in last year’s tournament — North Carolina State — finished with 11 wins. But if an SU team that relies on youth hopes to make that push, then it must be on the back of its senior goalkeeper. Brosnan led the ACC in saves two years ago with 81, and last season she made 93. But after both seasons, she never received any awards for her play. That’s nothing new to Brosnan, and she’s OK with it.

“She was just a complete goalkeeper,” said Josh Osit, a current Columbia University goalie coach who trained Brosnan growing up. “She was reliable, always going to make the good saves. You never really worried about anything when she was in there. She was just solid all the way around.”

That consistency is important to Brosnan. She’s been a wall in front of Syracuse’s net for 55-straight games, dating back to her freshman season. When asked if she ever nearly lost her starting streak, Brosnan deflected.

“It kind of comes with the sport,” Brosnan said. “Just little nicks from playing every day. Obviously, your body gets pretty sore. I don’t think it’s anything worse than just what everyone is going through.”

The “little nicks” are more common than the senior goalkeeper prefers to admit. Last season, against then-No. 2 Florida State, Sharon, her mother, said Brosnan played with a separated shoulder. Brosnan totaled 15 saves against the Seminoles, including one in overtime when she dove on her hurt side to save the game.

The New Jersey native’s efforts didn’t earn her team a win, but it earned her ACC Co-Defensive player of the week. Her lone award in her junior season would have to be split.

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Josh Shub-Seltzer | Contributing Photographer

But Brosnan is used to sharing. Growing up, she played for the Players Development (New Jersey) Academy. She was ranked the No. 12 goalie in the nation at the time in the Soccer Girls IMG Academy Top 150, released by TopDrawerSoccer.com. With PDA, she won three national championships under head coach Mike O’Neill, who is now the head women’s soccer coach at Rutgers. O’Neill doesn’t remember his team losing in that three-year span in which its team captain, Brosnan, split time with current Rutgers goalkeeper Casey Murphy.

“We believed in having (those) two goalkeepers together because they had a friendship to push each other to be the best,” O’Neill said.

In a national championship event headed into her freshman year at SU, Brosnan had an “episode” with her knee, her father, Shawn, said. Her knee had been subluxated before she even stepped foot onto Syracuse’s campus. The then-freshman goalkeeper avoided surgery and chose rigorous physical therapy instead, Shawn said. 10 games into the 2014 season, Brosnan made her debut for the Orange on the road in the ACC opener.

Brosnan remembers that game vividly as one of her favorites over the last three years. SU fell 1-0 to Louisville and its keeper only made four saves.

“I knew (then) that was where I wanted to be,” Brosnan said. “I took it all in.”

Freshman year, she was named to the ACC All-Freshman Team and had her right knee scoped. Sophomore year, she led the ACC in saves and had reconstructive surgery. Junior year, she made a career-high 93 saves and was healthy.

She owns second-highest saves per game mark in program history, 5.15, but in part that is because she faces a higher volume of shots than her opponents. Last year, in seven games against eventual NCAA tournament teams, Syracuse’s defense allowed more than 17 shots per game.

Yet Brosnan has been up to the challenge so many times before. SU head coach Phil Wheddon said the moment that stood out for him was the 15-save performance against Florida State. But Brosnan doesn’t linger on individual performance.

As she walked back toward Manley Field House in her blue jersey, Brosnan returned from her pause. Although she may have more than one hope riding on this season, her main focus isn’t personal. It’s about making a postseason run with her team.

“It would be an ultimate goal.” Brosnan said.

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