The New Veteran: Transfer goalkeeper brings experience to young Lady Topper team

WKU goalkeeper Nora Abolins dives into the action to deflect Memphis players from reaching the goal during the WKU versus Memphis game at the WKU Soccer Complex on Sunday, September 8, 2013. In the end WKU beat out Memphis 1-0. 

Jonah Phillips

On a team with so many new faces, senior goalkeeper Nora Abolins brings something to the table that the 11 other newcomers do not — a successful collegiate career.

The transfer student spent three years at the University of Detroit Mercy before joining the Lady Toppers coming off a 2012 Horizon League Goalkeeper of the Year season.

But her journey to the Hill was much farther than a drive from Detroit to Bowling Green.

Abolins hails from Demorestville, Ontario, a city roughly 130 miles northeast of Toronto, and this is where her passion for soccer was found.

“Soccer has always been my number one sport — it was my passion from the start,” Abolins said. “But I didn’t start playing it competitively. I grew up in a very small, rural area in Canada, so there wasn’t too much of an opportunity.”

It wasn’t until high school that Abolins really made the commitment to develop herself as an athlete.  In her time at Centennial Secondary School, Abolins lettered in volleyball, track and field, rugby and badminton — all while she played club soccer for the Toronto Jr. Lady Lynx and the Kingston Football Club.

During her time in Toronto, she caught the eye of Detroit Mercy women’s soccer coach Mike Lupenec.

“Their coach, Mike Lupenec, had heard about me,” Abolins said. “He came to see me, and initially it was the right place at the right time.”

Her career at the school didn’t last for long, though.

“They had what I was looking for initially, but academically it didn’t really pan out,” Abolins said.  “I ultimately want to become a physical therapist. In Detroit, I was a pre-med biology major, but they didn’t offer all the courses needed to go into grad school.”

By the time her junior year rolled around, she began to look at places that would give what she describes as “the best of both worlds.” She was looking for somewhere that she could both compete at the highest possible level her senior season while also finding somewhere that fit her academic needs.

WKU fit the bill.

“Once I learned about WKU and their history, their record, met the coaches and the girls, I knew this was where I wanted to be,” Abolins said.  “But it wasn’t until my visit when I was absolutely sold just by the atmosphere and the pride in the school itself.”

Since her arrival at WKU this past December, the WKU defense has only allowed seven goals and posted two shutouts against two shutouts against Rice and Tennessee. Abolins has posted a total of 26 shutouts in her collegiate career.

The Lady Toppers have just one more weekend before entering conference play.  They will take on Belmont this Friday in Nashville and Lipscomb this Sunday at home before embarking on their eight-game conference slate.

Coach Jason Neidell said he is happy with what he has been seeing defensively out of Abolins and the back line of the Lady Toppers, citing last Sunday’s game against Tennessee as an example.

“It’s not just to play a good team on their home field, but we didn’t get the kind of results that we wanted on Friday,” Neidell said of WKU’s first game that weekend against Western Carolina. “But our kids really bounced back with a terrific day (Sunday).”

With the defense performing so well, Neidell said adjustments need to be made on the offensive side in their last two non-conference games this weekend against Belmont and Lipscomb.

“That’s the final piece of the puzzle,” the coach said. “We have to work on the attacking side of the ball.”