During her junior year at Lee’s Summit North in 2017, Sarah Peters established herself as the best goalkeeper in the state.
That season, she had 10 shutouts, a 0.70 goals against average and she was the Missouri Class 4 Goalkeeper of the Year. Peters helped lead the Broncos to the state championship game, in which they lost to Eureka.
That was her last high school season as she elected to play for her Sporting Kansas City club team for her senior year.
With all of her past success, it shouldn’t have been a surprise that she started as a freshman for the University of Kansas last fall. The player originally slated to be the Jayhawks’ starting goalkeeper transferred, opening the door for Peters.
“I came in with the mentality that I wanted to get that starting spot,” Peters said. “I came in pretty driven and worked out that entire summer with the girls. They thought I was the best fit for the team at the time.”
That turned out to be the case as she had a solid first college season. She started in 21 games and compiled a 12-6-3 record, 1.04 goals against average, nine shutouts and 57 saves.
“We had a good non-conference season and had a lot of shutouts, which is good,” said Peters, whose Jayhawks finished 13-6-3 overall and 5-4 in the Big 12 Conference. “There were a couple of games where we had defensive slip-ups.”
Even though she had a great season in which she was named to the Big 12 All-Freshman team, she still has plenty of things she wants to shore up before her sophomore campaign this fall.
Peters said she is working on improving her fitness and the technical aspect of being a sweeper goalkeeper. That type of goalkeeper typically tries to control the space behind the back line and tries to keep close to the defenders more often than normal. It’s a more aggressive type of goalkeeping in which they come off their line more often and clear balls outside the box.
Peters played a similar style when she was at Lee’s Summit North, so the adjustment for her was seamless.
“When I receive the ball, I pass with my feet,” Peters said. “If there are through balls, I will try to be there with my feet. And I come out of my box more, almost like I am the sixth defender.”
She added that she is also working with Kansas assistant coach Kelly Miller on having a more calm demeanor.
“She’s been teaching me a different goalkeeping technique than I am used to,” Peters said. “I am more antical and what he wants is more calm and collected and pretty precise. It took a little while to get used to. It’s really helped my game especially at the college level.
“When you’re getting ready to stop a shot, you’re not jumping around. You’re set and ready to stop and anticipate the shot. I think after a year of doing it, I think have gotten a lot better at it.”
It helps Peters’ cause that she’s been able to reunite with someone she played with at Lee’s Summit North, senior Addisyn Merrick, who plays on the backline.
“It’s so awesome,” Peters said. “It’s nice to have someone from back home that you can relate to. She’s been a huge player on our defense. She helped me get through my freshman year.
“I leaned on her and asked her questions. She’s a great teammate. Not just to me, but everybody.”
With Merrick in front of her, Peters wants to improve on last year’s record, especially in the Big 12. However, that may be difficult as the conference has four teams ranked in the top 25 of the NCAA preseason poll.
“I hope to get more shutouts and get more saves for sure,” she said. “I want to help the team out and win more games.”