Saving Queen's, one last time

Queen's keeper reflects on her five years in the net

Madison Tyrell is the fifth-year keeper for the women’s soccer team.
Madison Tyrell is the fifth-year keeper for the women’s soccer team.

In simplest terms, to be a successful soccer team, the 11 players on the pitch must either score more goals than their opponents, or let in fewer on their own net. 

There’s no player more familiar with the latter responsibility than Madison Tyrell, the fifth-year goalkeeper for the women’s soccer team — especially on a Gaels team that has proven itself one of the stingiest in the OUA in recent seasons. 

Now, already two-thirds of the way through her final season, Tyrell spoke to The Journal via email about her personal experiences protecting the posts at Queen’s throughout her five years. 

“As a fifth year, this season had been about getting the most out of every opportunity,” Tyrell wrote in the midst of a season where the Gaels sit fourth in the OUA East. 

“I am soaking in all the little things that I used to overlook because I knew there was always next year.”

As a key veteran on a Gaels team with players at many different stages of their varsity careers, Tyrell acknowledged how she’s had to take on a leadership role that goes beyond just the 18-yard box. 

“Compared to previous seasons, I feel more of a responsibility to leave this team having gave everything I could give on and off the field.” 

Tyrell also pointed out how she’s grateful to have an opportunity in a mentorship role, in order to “pass down all [her] learnings, good and bad, not just for the keepers, but to all the younger years.”

The knowledge that Tyrell has been passing on to her younger teammates has also been crucial to improving her own game. Her own methods may differ from some of those of her teammates, with mental preparation being so important for goalkeepers, in addition to physical. 

“As a keeper, my preparation is about connecting with my sense,” she said. To prepare for this, she works on mental imagery, which earlier in her career involved playing Gameboy before the soccer matches, but now has modernized into a game on her phone.

Ultimately, when it comes to preparation for goalkeeping, Tyrell says: “In the net, things happen so quickly. I need my reflexes, decision making and muscle memory to come as second nature.”

One aspect of Tyrell’s game that has always stood out is her incredible record in penalty shootouts. Though this is only a factor in the playoffs, the impact a strong record in penalties has had on the Gaels’ fortunes is massive.  

In last season’s OUA semifinals, Tyrell made two saves in her team’s shootout against the number one seed York Lions, setting them up for a 7-6 win and earning a berth in the CIS Championships. 

In the Championships, the team won their final two games again with spot kicks, claiming fifth spot nationally, with three Tyrell saves across the two shootouts.

Dave McDowell, head coach of the women’s soccer team, mentioned penalties in particular as one aspect of his long-serving keeper’s game that has always impressed. 

“There’s a sense of real confidence in her that she’ll stop two or three of them,” he said. 

Tyrell added her own thoughts on the typically unpredictable tiebreaker format, stressing the importance of confidence and focus. 

“Shootouts are won and lost between the ears … It has taken loads of practice to feel that confidence on the line. I have to trust my practice and enjoy the moment”, she said. 

“For me I look forward to seizing those moments. I believe they are what makes sports so special.”                                


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