Goalie sets team mark in shutouts

Illinois goalkeeper Lindsey Carstens, center, stops a shot on goal during the game against Indiana on Friday. Erica Magda

Adam Babcock

Illinois goalkeeper Lindsey Carstens, center, stops a shot on goal during the game against Indiana on Friday. Erica Magda

By Steve Contorno

Standing on the sidelines as a freshman, goalkeeper Lindsey Carstens witnessed the player she would eventually replace set a new mark for career shutouts every time the Illini put a goose egg on the scoreboard. With the previous record at eight shutouts, All-American keeper Leisha Alcia – now the team’s goalie coach – blew that number away, finishing her career with 24 games in which she did not allow a goal.

Though less decorated in her four-year career, Carstens quietly crept up on Alcia’s record.

As the clock reached zero Friday night, in front of the second-largest home crowd in Illinois soccer history, it was another zero on the scoreboard that drove the Illini bench to rush its keeper.

Carstens broke the record.

After tying the record the previous weekend against Wisconsin, Carstens got her 25th shutout as Illinois beat No. 24 Indiana 3-0 in what was her final regular season home game as an Illini.

“It’s perfect on Senior Night being home in front of your fans and your parents and family and friends here to get the record,” Carstens said after the win. “It was a great opportunity for me (to get my 25th shutout).”

Carstens had three saves in the victory, picking up her third with 15 minutes remaining in the game – her final test from an Indiana team that didn’t make Carstens’ job too difficult. For that, Carstens credited the players around her.

“The whole team makes my job easy. They keep them from the defensive third and (Indiana) took shots from so far away so it really makes my job easy,” Carstens said. “Tonight I got tested a little bit but still not too much.”

Even teammate and fellow senior Ella Masar, who injured her back in the match, couldn’t stay sidelined, running to Carstens and hugging her before the goalie even reached midfield.

“Lindsey breaking the career record, that’s unreal for all of us,” Masar said.

Matching Alcia’s record wasn’t even on Carstens’ mind until this season.

“I hadn’t really thought about it or even looked into it,” Carstens said. “I really never expected this to happen, and it wasn’t until people told me I was getting close that I really thought about it.”

Passing the mark once owned by her former teammate and now coach has made the experience that much more special for Carstens.

“I completely look up to (Alcia) and thought she was a tremendous keeper,” Carstens said. “She got me here, she helped me break this record and she wanted me to break the record.”

Carstens joined the Illini in 2004, playing in just 11 minutes, 24 seconds her freshman year. A native of West Chester, Ohio, Carstens got her first start in 2005 and played the majority of minutes in goal for the team that season, going 9-4-3. On Aug. 28, 2005, in just the team’s second game of the season, Carsten’s posted her first shutout in a double-overtime tie against Wisconsin-Milwaukee. At the time, Carstens was at the bottom looking up at nine years of Illini keepers.

Twenty-four shutouts and three years later, Carstens is alone at the top.

“It’s sure gone fast,” Carstens said of her time at Illinois. “I can’t believe it’s toward the end of my senior season. It’s been a long journey, it’s been an eventful journey, but it’s not over yet.”

It’s definitely not over. Carstens goes for number 26 Friday at Michigan.