For the past two years, Boston University’s women’s soccer team has employed a unique strategy in the six-yard box — splitting their games between two goalies. Sophomore Celia Braun and senior Gretchen Bennett have been alternating in goal, switching at halftime for the past two seasons. Both have been critical in the team’s success over that span, including a Patriot League regular season title, a 22-14-3 record and 124 combined saves.
“We just push each other to get better every day,” Bennett said. “It’s also a unique position for both of us like we’re both friends, I love Celia, and so we root for each other really hard whenever we’re playing. Maybe we both understand that when one person is winning, our whole team is winning.”
As the older of the two, Bennett has experience on the pitch that helps her maintain a certain composure and competitiveness needed as a goalkeeper. Braun mentioned how she looks up to Bennett for that exact reason.
“I often find myself when a goal goes in or something, I get really frustrated and emotions take over sometimes,” Braun said. “Gretchen is very good at both game management and management for emotions, the ability to just stay positive.”
While Bennett has more collegiate experience, she has picked up skills from her younger counterpart.
“Celia is one of the best players on the team technically. She really focuses on that a lot,” Bennett said. “I definitely have learned a lot from her and she’s pushing a lot (for me) to become better with my feet and everything.”
The two have had an especially successful season this year. In a stretch spanning from late September through early October, the tandem secured shutouts in four straight games. Despite only playing half the time of a regular goalie, Bennett ranks in the top 10 for saves in the Patriot League this season, just as Braun did in 2021.
However, they both only have one goal in mind: winning.
“We just want the team to win,” Bennett said. “We have our own roles, whether we’re on the field or not. So just taking on those roles and giving it our best wherever we are, on the field or not, is very important.”
Despite the inevitable competition that develops between two players competing for the same spot in the lineup, it is apparent how supportive they are, not only of their team, but also of each other. They said they drive each other to their best performances and have each other’s back when a game does not go the other’s way.
“Gretchen’s really good at supporting me, and I hope that I support her as well,” Braun said. “It’s become habit. It’s been the system from the beginning on.”
Their focus on positivity and teamwork makes them better teammates and better goalies. This all culminates in an unstoppable defensive duo that does whatever it takes to get the job done in goal.
Following a heartbreaking 1-0 defeat in the PL Championship last season at the hands of Bucknell University, the duo will be in action in this year’s postseason to help the team reclaim its crown. In the quarterfinals, the two combined for a clean sheet in a dominant 3-0 victory over Loyola Maryland. They will look to carry that momentum into the semifinals against the Bison on Thursday at 7 p.m.
However, if it came down to one of them to be in goal for a shootout, who would it be? To the goalie duo, it doesn’t matter because of their faith in each other.
“Hopefully, we just win our games in the tournament so we don’t have to really explore that,” Bennett said. “But I would say, honestly, both of us would do just fine.”