If there was any doubt about Erin Seppi’s netminding abilities after grabbing the starting varsity spot as a freshman and then earning a top-150 national ranking by her sophomore year, she certainly quelled them last December. Some goalkeepers never record a save like Seppi did at a tournament in Texas, a career-defining moment that gave Maryland, the university she committed to in May 2014, a glimpse of what’s to come.
Playing for her FC Bucks club squad, Seppi positioned herself at the left post, attempting to cut off an opponent’s breakaway. After a hard strike a few feet to her right, Seppi dove, stretched out her hands and knocked the ball away. Unfortunately for her, the ball ended up caroming right to another foe, who was coming across the middle.
Seppi, still on the ground, barely had time to react, practically conceding the goal. But as soon as the opposing striker sent a missile towards the right post, Seppi vaulted up, went into a full dive and blocked the ball yet again, this time cradling it in before releasing it to a teammate.
“I had so much adrenaline and power in my legs to get from one side of the goal to the other in so short amount of time,” said Seppi, a class of 2016 recruit who plays for Monroe Township in Monmouth Junction, N.J. “I surprised even myself, and I wish I could do it again (laughs). I’m working on that now. I hope it happens again.”
Seppi’s save was no fluke. In fact, it was a decade in the making.
Seppi, like most youngsters, started as a midfielder and forward at the age of four. But a couple years later she decided to attend a local boys’ camp just for the heck of it. Apparently one of the teams was short a goaltender, so Seppi volunteered to give it a try.
To make a long story short, she hasn’t ventured more than a few yards from the goal line ever since.
“I wasn’t afraid to dive in front of shots and just get dirty. I loved being on the back line, the last line of defense, and just being a leader on the field,” Seppi said. “I feel goaltender is one of the greatest positions out there. Ever since I attended that camp, I absolutely loved it.”
Following her newfound passion for keeping, Seppi attacked the position like a striker does an open net. With her nearby town team in Jersey, she took regular instruction from a goalie coach, who trained her in the basics. A year or so later, Seppi started at a higher-level academy team, affording her a chance to train with a personal instructor every day during the offseason.
In addition, Seppi attended countless camps and clinics in order to learn different styles and pick up on the nuances of the position. She even worked with her male counterparts since the competition was stiffer.
These days, she trains year-round, working with her FC Bucks' keeping coaches during the season while attending Jill Loyden’s Keeper Institute once a week.
Seppi said her routine is practically the same every time she works out. After a warmup she hones in on her footwork, followed by hand work, then diving and finally distribution. She said every move is calculated, every detail picked apart and analyzed.
It pays off on game day.
“I’d like to call myself proactive. I like to be prepared for every situation you can be in. instead of being reactive and guessing where the ball is going,” Seppi said. “I like to set myself up and give myself the best chance at saving a shot. For example, if there’s a breakaway, I like to have my angles set correctly so I won’t be hesitant or misread the play. I like to have everything under control and my team organized so we’re not freaking out when the ball is in our end.”
Speaking of game day, Seppi, like many netminders, engages in a specific, repeatable routine. Once she arrives at the pitch, the ear buds go in and the Eminem and Red Hot Chili Peppers start pumping. (“I actually like the National Anthem too. It’s weird, but it pumps me up,” she said). Seppi doesn’t say much during warmups, preferring to focus on the task at hand, visualizing herself making a diving save and then rolling the ball out to her defender, or stopping a breakaway attack in her tracks.
Then, just before the whistle blows, Seppi runs over to the goal line, touches her toes, and jumps up to tap the crossbar. After that, she goes through a series of jumps (think jumping jacks) to get her legs loose.
“It’s a superstitious thing,” Seppi said. “It keeps me loose. I like to keep moving before a game; you’ll never see me just standing back there.”
Regardless if you see her, you’ll almost certainly hear her. Seppi said once the game begins, “I don’t shut up.”
“I’m very communicative on the back line, because that’s how you keep your defense organized,” Seppi said. “In the game I’m active, a leader and I organize my back line and sometimes the offense too.”
All of this has served her well throughout her career thus far. Seppi, who has been with the FC Bucks since her freshman year at Monmouth Township, has developed into one of the top 10 goalkeepers in the country, ranking seventh according to TopDrawer.com’s ratings. She’s considered the No. 72 player in the country overall, garnering a four-star ranking.
So, really, Seppi was a no-brainer for Maryland and head coach Jonathan Morgan. Seppi said Morgan and his assistants first saw her at a tournament in Florida her freshman year, intrigued by her already-refined game and style. A year later, at the very same tournament, Seppi shined again, prompting the Terps (along with Pittsburgh, Purdue and Boston University) to offer a scholarship.
Just a couple months later, following a College Park, Md., campus visit, Seppi opted to commit to Morgan and the Terps.
“I’ve always seen Maryland as a school that I aspired to go to. When they got interested in me I was super excited,” Seppi said. “Then when I visited there the campus was awesome, everything I needed was so close, and there were so many students there and I love big classes.
“The girls on the soccer team were awesome too. They were so friendly on my visit, their style of play is similar to how I like to play, and the coaches were phenomenal. [The goaltending coach] is awesome and Coach Morgan is awesome as well.”
Before heading back to College Park in 2016, Seppi said she’d love to lead her Bucks squad to the national tournament out in Seattle. And when she does arrive at Maryland, she’s not shy about her aspirations.
“I’m working towards becoming a goaltender Maryland can look to as a freshman and be able to play the full game right away,” Seppi said. “I want to become someone they’re comfortable putting in net as soon as I get there.”
Lofty expectations for sure, but, hey, they’ve been a decade in the making.
Star Keeper Seppi Set For College Park
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