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Soccer goalies share spotlight, success

Synopsis: Senior Jen McEachron and junior Erin Iman have split equal time during BU's record-breaking 2009 women's soccer season. While the two goalies have united in this unique and successful strategy, each has forged her own successful path off the soccer field.

By John Hartrick, Associate AD-Communications

Two goalies who embrace their 45 minutes the same way they embrace life — full throttle.

 

bu bearcats Binghamton women’s soccer goalkeepers Jen McEachron and Erin Iman are sharing the spotlight during a record-breaking 2009 season. In sports, athletes are asked to balance a healthy competitiveness for playing time with a sense of teamwork and support. Nowhere is this more evident than with McEachron and Iman, who split time in goal for the Bearcats, who have earned America East runnerup honors in one of their finest seasons in the school’s Division I tenure.

While field players are used to being subbed in and out of games for strategic reasons, it is rare for teams to sub keepers except for injuries and ineffectiveness. However, BU head coach Sarah McClellan has created a routine that has McEachron starting and playing the first half of every game and Iman entering at halftime to finish the remainder of the game. The duo has responded with seven shared shutouts and a combined 0.99 goals against average, second-lowest in the program’s Division I tenure. McEachron, a senior, has allowed just six goals and ranks second in the America East in save percentage. Iman, a junior, sports a 1.22 goals against average and is among the league leaders in saves per game. Both players are intensely competitive student-athletes who would no doubt prefer to play the whole game. But instead, each makes the most of her opportunity and brings out the best in the other. And the team wins — to the tune of a 6-2 conference record that is the best in BU’s eight years of America East play.

“The splitting of the games has been beneficial in our team focus and our goalkeepers’ focus,” McClellan said. “We play games in 45-minute increments instead of 90-minute increments. Our intensity is at a higher level for each of the 45 minutes as opposed to spreading it out over 90 minutes. Both Jen and Erin are very supportive of each other, especially when they combine for a shutout. They congratulate each other for great saves and always give tips about what they see during the game.”

Each keeper embraces the shared duties and sees the positive for the team.

 

bu bearcats “In training we are able to push each other to be better players,” McEachron said. “In games, I know that I only have one half ... 45 minutes. Knowing that, I set my mentality that I have no second half to make up for a mistake I made in the first half. So I have to give the absolute best 45 minutes I can every time I step onto the field and I know Erin will do the same.”

“Jen and I have battled year-in, year-out to be the starting keeper,” Iman said. “We are both fortunate that Coach sees each of our strengths and allows us both to play in every game. Having another keeper that you are constantly competing with is always a benefit; it allows you to push each other every day and forces you to never give up.”

Sharing time in goal is one of several parallels between McEachron and Iman. The pair are goal-oriented, have battled through adversity, generously given their time to others and are focused on lofty career aspirations. Though they are thrust together for a unified goal on the field, off it they are independent young women forging their own unique paths.

McEachron is a scholar-athlete who will attend medical school in the fall. She has her sights set on specializing in orthopedics and orthopedic surgery. McEachron has been a member of BU’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, was inducted into the National College Athlete Honor Society and is a member of the America East Commissioner’s Honor Roll. She is driven to excel in everything she does. Her college soccer success didn’t come easy though.

“I started out as a third-string red-shirt freshman and had to work very hard to get to where I am this season,” McEachron said. “Over the past four years I’ve spent a lot of time personally working on my game.”

While McEachron was working on her game, Iman was working on lifting her arm up past her shoulder. After transferring to BU from Richmond in 2007, Iman developed a torn rotator cuff during a sophomore season in which she started the first 13 games before giving way to McEachron. She had surgery to tighten up the joint and repair the tear and had to endure a full year before her doctor would even let her throw a ball.

“The pain before the surgery was unbearable,” Iman said. “The rehab was long and tedious but my shoulder feels good now.”

 

bu bearcats The latest medical challenge came last summer when Iman herniated three discs in her lower back. But rest, medication and therapy got her back on the field again this fall.

While McEachron wants to use her academic focus and budding medical skills to help people, Iman is pursuing her passion of helping children and in particular, children with disabilities. She began down that path in high school, taking part in her school’s Best Buddies program. At Binghamton, Iman has been an active participant in the area’s TOPSoccer program, the Boys & Girls Club and the Special Olympics. In addition to juggling her class schedule and soccer commitment last season, she volunteered eight hours a week at the Boys & Girls Club.

“Working with the Best Buddies program was an eye-opening experience for me,” Iman said. “I learned how much I truly enjoy being with those children and the joy that comes from it. Being exposed to the TOPSoccer program really helped peak my interest.”

Iman’s career goals are to take courses to earn her certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders, and then attend graduate school for applied behavioral analysis. Her long-term goal is to work at either the Kennedy Krieger Institute at Johns Hopkins Hospital or the Marcus Autism Center of Atlanta.

McClellan knows she has two very special student-athletes between the goalposts.

 

bu bearcats “Both Jen and Erin are truly great people who care for others and are active in community service,” she said. “They both have made a huge impact on our program in that both are such solid competitors in goal and have combined to lead the team to one of our best seasons.”

McEachron’s season will be her last, while Iman returns next fall for her senior year. Both players have enjoyed a student-athlete experience that has helped shape their lives.

“I’ve grown as a person because of the challenge of excelling academically and athletically,” McEachron said. “Because of my experience with soccer at Binghamton, I know I can achieve my career goals with that same driven work ethic.”

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