For any reserve player, it’s always important to be ready at a moment’s notice. But having your number called when it’s on the back of a soccer goalie jersey is often times never easy.

Making sure the drop-off from starter to backup is as narrow as possible can be paramount for coaches, especially when the switch has to be made on the fly. That’s why it’s always important to have a backup plan in net.

Some coaches have already put that plan into action with the season still yet to reach the halfway point for most teams, with varying results.

Poland girls’ coach Tim Dolley had no choice putting in freshman backup keeper Gabrielle Bolduc in a road game against Gray-New Gloucester, after junior starter Sophie Vallee went down with an injury in the first half. Bolduc kept it a one-goal deficit for the Knights at halftime before the Patriots wore down Poland in the second half, all while finding better accuracy after the intermission.

Still, Dolley was pleased with Bolduc’s performance when forced into action.

It also further affirmed Dolley’s belief in Bolduc’s abilities.

“All preseason we’ve had her flip-flop, with them, just because they’re very close between, and I thought it was a good experience for her,” Dolley said. “Hopefully she doesn’t keep her head down, but I think she’ll be happy to get that under her belt and be ready for a season to come.”

Lincoln Academy coach Donovan York knew from the beginning of a game against Leavitt that senior Schuyler Farrell would get her first start of the season, making the switch after first-string goalie Sandra Thelander was dealt losses in the Eagles’ first two games.

“These girls have been battling each other all year. So I finally told my backup, I said ‘Listen Schuyler, I’m going to give you a chance to show what you can do in a game,’ because she’s been playing in some scrimmages, but she hasn’t really felt that pressure yet,” York said. “And she’s a senior, so I wanted to make sure that she kind of got rewarded for her hard work so far in preseason, so I said ‘You’re going to be on a tight leash, but if you can hang in there and do well, I’ll let you hang out there and stay.’ But she came up big.”

Farrell stopped 14 of 17 shots, including a penalty kick. York said Farrell’s long wingspan aided her cause, allowing her to get a hand on some shots the Hornets tried to get past her.

Height and length have also been an asset for Monmouth backup-turned starter Connor Davies, who was thrust into the starting role because of an injury to No. 1 goalie Brock Bates. Davies has helped lead the Mustangs to a 5-2 record at the halfway mark of the season, despite just learning the position this year.

“Connor has done a fine job and has become a solid keeper,” Monmouth coach Joe Fletcher said.

“You know, he’s learning angles, and learning how to play the game being a soccer goalie,” Fletcher said after a win over Oak Hill. “I like his progress, but I want to get him back on the field, where he belongs.”

“He’s just learning a lot of stuff, and he’s becoming more and more aggressive. And with his height, it’s easy for him to come out and win balls, so that helps us a lot,” Monmouth captain and defender Corey Armstrong said after the Oak Hill win.

That height affected what the Raiders could do, according to head coach Bill Worth.

“Any of these indirects that we had on the outside, we just had no chance because he just could cover so much with his wingspan,” Worth said.

Davies also was able to use his strong leg to help his team, with punts routinely going over midfield and, as Worth said, letting the Mustangs “get a good counter attack.” One of those punts led to a Monmouth goal early in the second half of the win.

Soccer can be a physical sport, especially inside both the 18- and 6-yard boxes. That means a backup goalie can be only one collision away from back-stopping a team in need.

Planning ahead for that very situation can make that substitution a less painful one.

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Poland goalie Gabrielle Bolduc watches play from a corner kick unfold during a loss to Gray-New Gloucester in Gray on Saturday. (Wil Kramlich/Sun Journal)


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