AUBURN – Brittney French would not let her idle minutes in study hall go to waste.

With her homework done, the Edward Little goaltender set her mind on history – soccer history. She’d look up the goaltending records of her coach Val Brown and envision her own name in the record books.

“One of the teachers had all the yearbooks,” said French. “I looked at her senior yearbook everyday, and I’d memorize them and say, ‘That’s the one I want to get.’ She had set seven records in her senior season.”

French is within two of the all-time mark for shutouts and missed Brown’s single season record of 10 by two last season. Just knowing that French is gunning for her records has Brown accepting the fact that some of her milestones could change hands.

“I have a very unique position in that I’m not only going to be here to watch it, but I’m also one who has helped her, in a way, get to where she is,” said Brown. “I helped start working on her technique and helped her become the goaltender that she worked hard enough to become.

“For me, there will be a lot of satisfaction to know that she’s reached something. Being as driven as she is, if she sets a goal, she will reach it. It will just be nice to be here to watch it.”

French says the individual records are just fun little goals for herself. Her ultimate aim is guiding the Red Eddies to another successful season. EL went 8-4-2 last year, but lost in the preliminary round. After losing 10 players, including the entire defense, French plays a significant role on this year’s squad.

“Now we’re going to have a brand new defense,” Brown said. “Brittney is going to have to help me. She’s going to have to be that coach on the field and make sure we stay in our formation and keep our shape.”

It’s a role the all-state goaltender hasn’t really had to play to this degree. Brown says French has proven to be technically as good as most keepers in the state, but her ability to lead a team can make her that much better.

“In order to be that next level goalkeeper, she’s got to play with her feet and she’s got to be a communicator,” Brown said. “I think those are the two things you’re starting to see more and more.”

French, who is also in the top five percent of her class and hopes to study psychology while playing basketball and soccer in college, was tossed into the net in elementary school. She was drawn to the sport by a friend and made a goaltender because the team needed one. She’s been in the net ever since.

She’s worked with Brown exhaustively the last two years on the technical aspects of her game. Since last year’s campaign, she played on a premier team in Gorham and attended an elite soccer camp for the third straight year.

The Velocity team in Gorham was comprised of mostly Southern Maine players, who played an indoor season during the winter followed by an outdoor season. She’d play games on weekends and practice once or twice during the week, while juggling basketball.

Not only was French a newcomer to the team, replacing an already familiar goalie, she encountered a team with very different skills than she was accustomed. It was a big adjustment for her on the field as well as socially. French felt discouraged at times, but it forced her to develop her communication and leadership skills.

When she returned to play with her EL teammates this summer, she noticed a significant difference.

“That was the hardest thing that you have to learn,” French said. “You think it’s going to be easy to learn how to do. You have to be able to watch your defense and be able to tell them to mark here, and you have to be able to move your defense up.”

The six-day Soccer Plus camp helped, as well. She’s noticed a significant improvement in her ability to extend her body. She now has the foot skills as good as most field players on her team.

“My foot skills were the level of a six-year old at times,” she said.

Those experiences prepared her for a season in which she’ll have to lead a promising EL team. She knows she has to help set the tone on and off the field.

Brown is excited about a young squad that is motivated to learn and improve. Nobody serves as a better example than French.

“The reason why she is the goalkeeper she is and such the athlete that she is, is because of her drive and her work ethic,” said Brown. “I don’t think you’ll find another female athlete in this school that works harder than her.”


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