Thursday March 13, 2014 | By:Michael J. Petro | Sports
DIVING SAVE — Tori Christ, here making a save for Cornell, will get her chance to make a professional team at a training camp tryout in Boston.
Tori Christ remembers sitting in the stands for a Boston Breakers women’s professional soccer game at Harvard Stadium and thinking it would be amazing to one day get the opportunity to be out on the field playing.
She doesn’t have to just imagine it anymore.
The Hamburg native and Cornell University senior has taken the first step toward her dream by earning an invitation to the Breakers’ preseason training camp for a chance to play in the National Women’s Soccer League. The camp is March 10-17 in Boston.
“Things seem to come full circle,” Christ said. “This has been my dream for as long as I can remember. Since starting soccer and becoming a goalkeeper, I kept wanting to get to the next level and the next level. My goal was to play college soccer and I was honored to play at Cornell, then I kept working and thought, I could push it even further.”
After a four-year career at Cornell, in which she led the Ivy League in saves her junior season, Christ decided to register for the professional draft and got a few invites to camps at the next level. She decided to attend a tryout last weekend with the Breakers.
It began with 60 players, including six goalies, and was cut down to 16 by the second session. From there, Christ was approached by the team’s goalkeeper coach and offered a chance to attend training camp. The Breakers will also field a reserve team so that players are ready to step in when first-team players are away participating in national competitions.
“It was nerve-racking and exciting, just to be with players of such a high caliber,” Christ said of the tryout. “You get in games and you can feel the quick pace and high intensity. To be in that environment and be able to thrive, it was perfect.”
After her junior season at Cornell, Christ was presented the Randy May Coaches’ Award, which is given to the player who best demonstrates the spirit and dedication to soccer, once exhibited by Randy May, the first head coach of the program.
She is the only two-time winner of the award in program history. Christ had also won it her freshman season, despite not starting any games, with two older goalies getting most of the time in net.
Christ finished with 88 saves, 11th all-time at Cornell, in 2012. A two-time captain, earning that honor as both a junior and senior, Christ split time in net during her upperclassman campaign, playing in nine games and recording two shutouts.
She noted that one of her strengths has always been being a technically sound goalie. Christ has worked to get better with her agility and range and making sure to be clean and sure with her hands.
“A coach used to tell me that your feet get your hands the ball, so I’m always working on footwork,” Christ said. “For the next level, you really need to think even before you have the ball. You need to read and anticipate plays before they even happen.”
Before she began to imagine herself as a potential professional goalkeeper, Christ started in the sport at the age of 6, playing forward for Young America, a travel club out of Hamburg. She said it wasn’t until an injury to the team’s goalie that she decided to give being a netminder a try.
“Our goalie broke her finger and our coach asked, ‘Who wants to play in goal?’” Christ remembered. “My father was a goalie in hockey so I whipped out the gloves he had given me and tried it. I went in the net and never came out.”
Christ went on to earn a gold medal in the Empire State Games, and was the starting high school goalkeeper for Nardin Academy, where she set a scholastic single-season shutout record for the Monsignor Martin League and in WNY with 12. She also was named First Team All-Catholic.
Christ is finishing up her final semester at Cornell, where she’s slated to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology, but if the chance come up to play professionally and stay out in Boston, she’d have to put college on hold, for just a bit. After all, how many chances does one get to live out their dream.