Small in net, large for the Great Danes
By Lamya Zikry
For a person who is constantly under the spotlight, Alana Brennan, goalkeeper for the University at Albany women’s soccer team, always finds a way to stay positive.
“She is someone who, everyday, you can count on to have a smile on her face [and] go about her work enthusiastically,” said acting head coach Nick Bochette. “She does so and maintains that positive mentality while still striving to be the very best she can.”
Maria Randazzo, Brennan’s friend and apartment-mate, said Brennan works just as hard off the field as she does on. Brennan is a human biology major and plans on going to graduate school to become a physical therapist.
“She’s one of the most humble, down to earth people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing,” Randazzo said.
Growing up Brennan played soccer every day. She enjoyed going to tournaments. “I knew my whole life that I wanted to go to college and play a Division I sport, and soccer ended up being my decision since freshman year of high school,” she said.
Brennan started playing soccer when she was 5 years old. She also played basketball and softball, but soccer became her main sport and focus in high school. When she was younger, she hated playing goalie.
“I just loved scoring goals, which is funny because now I never do that,” Brennan said.
When Brennan was about 10, one of her coaches put her in the goal, and she’s been there ever since.
“I love going one versus one against a player. Saving a shot or playing a tough game and keeping your team in it is the best feeling. They always say defense wins championships. I just love the pressure of being the one back there to save it,” Brennan said. “When I’m about to save it, I’m not nervous or anything. It’s so exciting when I save a nice shot because the whole team gets pumped up and it pushes them forward.”
Her coach is equally impressed with her play.
“Alana is willing to take on new responsibilities, learn them and challenge her comfort zone and go well outside it to better herself and her team to put them in a better scenario to win,” Bochette said.
Brennan picked UAlbany because she really enjoyed the school, the girls on the team seemed close, and she liked the coaches. The coach that recruited Brennan had something in common with her, too — they’re both short.
“I thought it was cool. She was so small and she was going to recruit me when I’m a small goalie and it’s pretty hard to get recruited when you’re only 5-foot-4 and there are girls that are close to 6-foot that some coaches prefer in the net,” Brennan said.
She says it’s tough being a short goalkeeper. You have to be prepared to go against girls who are bigger and stronger.
“On corner kicks and free kicks you just have to be fearless and ready to go up for it no matter what. I am small but I can get height when I jump. When I go up with my hands I’m taller than a lot of the girls that are just using their heads,” Brennan said.
Brennan started goal-keeping halfway through the season her freshman year and has stayed in the position ever since.
“It’s good to go against the odds,” Brennan said. “It’s exciting proving everyone wrong.”
Alana Olivieri, a fellow goalkeeper on the UAlbany squad, said that Brennan is one of the nicest girls she’s ever met.
“As a goalkeeper, you have a different and special kind of relationship with each other. In practice, goalies are secluded in a way from the entire team. We really rely on each other for training and development,” Olivieri said.
So far this season, Brennan has played every second of the year in net for the Great Danes. She currently has a 5-5-1 record in UAlbany’s 11 games.
UAlbany’s next game is Thursday, Oct. 1 against Binghamton at Bob Ford Field at 7 p.m.