FAIRBORN — Wright State goalkeeper Maddie Jewell said jokingly about playing at her position with the Raiders, “It takes a fair amount of crazy to willingly throw yourself through the air for fun.”
The junior has been a key defensive player for the Raiders thus far this season.
The current record for WSU might be 2-5-1, but with a Sept. 14 conference opener victory at Oakland, the team now has significant momentum.
In the first half, Jewell had to pull off an acrobatic save to keep the match scoreless, and she held off a frenetic rally from the Golden Grizzlies in the second, that included a disallowed goal due to an offside call in the 90th minute, to preserve the 1-0 shutout.
“It’s always good to make the big saves that dictate the direction of the game, but that’s what I’m there for,” Jewell said. “We needed that win to open conference, and a shutout is a big deal with how hard our non-conference schedule was.”
“She (Jewell) came up big,” WSU coach Pat Ferguson said.
The season opener against Louisville was a Cardinal barrage that ended in an 8-1 loss for WSU, where Jewell allowed each goal. She remained thick-skinned however, seeing the positive side of the early setback.
“That was one of the longest games of my life. It was brutal, but it exposed a lot of regions we realize that we have to work on,” Jewell said.
Coming off of an impressive 0.97 goals against average stat last season, Jewell is now at 2.47, inflated by the opening match. She has shown to be one of the best goalies in the league, Ferguson says.
“Her athleticism is top in the league. She covers more area of the goal than a lot of goalkeepers,” Ferguson said. “Both Louisville and Tennessee said she was ‘fantastic’ after having played them.”
Jewell already faced her share of adversity throughout high school at Lakota West, when struggling with something that threatened her collegiate soccer career path.
In eighth grade, she had been diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which was causing chronic heartburn and nausea that was made worse from the movement involved with playing her sport. The diet she had to follow led to her losing 50 pounds at one point.
Entering her senior year in the summer of 2015, she started to get a better hold on the condition after beginning to see a specialist at The Christ Hospital in Cincinnati. Ultimately a procedure the following March remedied the issue, but one final hurdle remained.
“That was hard because I was underweight three or four months before playing soccer at a Division I level,” Jewell said. “It was a real challenge that I had to overcome before stepping onto the field here.”
Now a neuroscience major, Jewell hopes to attend medical school to pursue a career in pediatrics or neurology. Her experience getting treated for GERD influenced her decision.
“The compassion of those physicians and how they practiced medicine inspired me to pursue a career as a doctor,” Jewell said.
On the field, it’s the frankness and perspective of Ferguson that Jewell has come to appreciate of her coach.
“I like his view that soccer is a part of life and not our whole life. At the end of the day, we’re going to graduate and move on,” Jewell said. “His honesty is brutal sometimes, but I’d rather have you be upfront than soft and not tell us what we need to improve on.”
Former WSU teammates Nikki Romero and Brinna Price were a source of encouragement for Jewell.
“They’re still my best friends to this day,” Jewell said.
As a sophomore, the Horizon League honored Jewell for academics with her 4.0 GPA.
“It’s a lot of early mornings and late nights. You have to make a sacrifice socially to focus on academics,” Jewell said. “Time management is huge.”
After last weekend’s shutout, it certainly wouldn’t be crazy to say Jewell will make the Raiders conference contenders.
“Hopefully, we continue to rise,” Jewell said.