Lauren Ullmann gave up a score in the first 21 minutes of her career with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology women’s soccer team but the former Princeton High standout goalkeeper wasn’t fazed.
“We were playing Brandeis, they were ranked 8th in preseason,” said Ullmann.
“It was very exciting. That was a fantastic goal. I had made a couple of good saves right before and I made a couple right after so I didn’t have time to dwell on it. It was a very intense game, they put a lot of pressure on us.”
As MIT’s season unfolded, Ullmann thrived under the pressure that comes with starting as a freshman. She allowed just six goals in 21 starts, tying an MIT record for fewest goals allowed in a season. Ullmann’s goals against average ended up at 0.38 and she posted a .933 save percentage. She currently stands first in the MIT record book in save percentage and second in goals against.
Upon arriving at MIT for preseason training last August, Ullmann had to battle to earn the starting job, a process that helped pave the way for her outstanding campaign.
“That definitely pushed me to be at my best; I would not have had the season I ended up having if I hadn’t been pushed like that,” said Ullmann.
“I felt like I was at the right level. One of the things that drew me to MIT was that I had a good chance to get playing time right away.”
In taking advantage of the chance to play, Ullmann faced challenges both internally and externally.
“The two captains were two of the four defenders,” said Ullmann.
“I am very vocal on the field. It was hard to be commanding with such experienced players and not being established but I realized it was part of playing the game. I was going against players who could all hit the ball very well and make some very tough shots.”
Ullmann displayed her toughness when she didn’t let an injury to her right wrist keep her from starring in postseason play. She hurt her wrist in the final regular season game and originally thought it was sprained only to have x-rays later reveal a fracture.
“We taped it up and I rested it early in the week,” said Ullmann, who helped the Engineers blank Babson and Springfield in 0-0 games decided on penalty kicks to win the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) tournament.
“I wanted to be out there for the tournament games. Being in the games, the adrenaline took over. It is instinct on saves. I am going to react the same way. I wasn’t able to throw the ball and I wasn’t able to roll the ball. I had to kick it at times, it was a little unusual.”
While MIT’s season ended with a 0-0 loss on penalty kicks to the Rochester Institute of Technology in the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament, Ullmann is excited about what the squad achieved in its 13-2-6 campaign.
“We fought hard the whole way, I was proud of how we played good soccer, it speaks well for the future,” said Ullmann.
“I think we did better than expected because of the number of seniors from 2013 that we lost. We made it back to the NCAA tournament for a third time and we hosted the conference tournament. We beat Tufts, it was the first win for an MIT women’s team against a NESCAC (New England Small College Athletic Conference) team.”
Ullmann’s play exceeded her expectations. “Every step of the way helped me realize that I could accomplish the kind of things that I did in high school,” said Ullmann.
“I was very happy by how the season went. It was exciting to give up so few goals as a freshman. It makes me want to push myself to do even better over the next three years.”
Not resting on her laurels, Ullmann plans to keep showing the kind of work ethic that has helped her excel at every step of her career.
“I want to keep working hard; I want to keep putting in the effort to get better individually and to help the team go further and further,” said Ullmann.
“I am working on building my body strength. I want to have better decision-making and improve the way I read the game.”