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THE GRIND: South Forsyth's Goudy puts in the work to reach college goal
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Growing up, Hannah Goudy and her older brother, Dylan, found any excuse to challenge each other, and the outcome was always the same.

“He’d beat me at everything,” Goudy said.

But one day, Goudy found Dylan’s weakness. She was attending one of Dylan’s travel soccer games, and Dylan was playing goal keeper. Goudy remembers not being impressed.

“Ewww, it was not good,” Goudy said.

Goudy tucked that inspiration away until she was a little bit older. Her club team at the time rotated players around to every position, and eventually it was Goudy’s turn to get in goal.

“I was like, ‘Hey, I’m better than him at this,’” Goudy said.

Now, few are better or more experienced at the position in Forsyth County. Goudy is going into her third year as a starter for South Forsyth (call it three-and-a-half for the year she split time with Bri Haynes as a freshman), which opened its season Tuesday night against No. 10-ranked Milton.

The University of Georgia signee is one of the undisputed leaders on a Lady War Eagles team that returns seven key players from last season, including college-bound Elena Zang (Alabama) and Abby Nearing (Georgia College). South went 11-7 last season and hosted a first-round playoff game, only to lose to Parkview.

It was sixth grade the first time Goudy got in goal and knew she was better than her brother. But it wasn’t until eighth grade when Goudy considered it her primary position.

For Goudy, it was a chance to reinvent her soccer career. She was leaving her club team at the time and to try out with the Gwinnett Soccer Association (GSA), the No. 1 club team in the state. She was a newcomer. No one knew her as a forward or a midfielder or anything, so she told GSA’s coaches she was a goal keeper and made the team.

“When I made the team I realized, ‘Oh, I actually have something here,’” Goudy said.

Hoping to play college soccer one day, Goudy plunged into the world of competitive youth soccer. Between club and high school soccer, Goudy gets two weeks off a year. During the high school season, Goudy has either games or practices every week day. She trains with Wesley Lutz at Gary Pirkle Park in Sugar Hill on Thursdays after practice and Sundays for an hour and a half. During the club season, she has practice three times a week, trains with Glen Fox on Mondays and plays in tournaments on the weekend.

“It’s a lot of work,” Goudy said. “You’ve got to be very dedicated to your sport and have a passion for it.”

But Goudy developed a natural passion for the position. Sure, it lacked the glamour of a forward scoring a goal, but she relished the competitive aspect of the position. She learned to love being the last line of defense, a pass getting behind the defense and it all coming down to whether Goudy could block the shot.

Early on, the cheers after a big save sustained Goudy through all the misses.

“When I was little, I would give up a goal and get mad at myself,” Goudy said. “I’m really tough on myself as it is. … I’ve learned to not do that anymore and just forget about it and move on to the next one. I think it’s mostly maturing and getting older and learning how to deal with different situations more.”

South will need that poise. The Lady War Eagles hope to contend with Centennial, Lambert and Northview for the Region 6-AAAAAA title after finishing second last season, hoping its core of returning talent can mesh with an influx of newcomers.

They could stand to adopt the mindset of a goal keeper.

“Confidence is key,” Goudy said, “and aggressiveness. Confidence in yourself and what you’re doing. You can’t waffle. You’ve got to go for it.”