Brian McGrane, the Oswego State women’s soccer coach, didn’t know what to expect when he first received an email from Melissa Siegfried, a goalkeeper from Mattituck inquiring about trying out for the NCAA Division III team as a walk-on.
Siegfried was transferring from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, to Oswego, a school that offered her ROTC, a biology major and, she hoped, a chance to play for the Lakers.
McGrane knew nothing about Siegfried at the time. What he did know, however, was how vital the goalkeeper position is to a team. “If you have a really good goalie, you’re in games, and if you don’t have a lot of depth at that position, you’re in trouble,” he said.
Siegfried recalled in a phone interview on Tuesday, “I thought if I worked hard enough I could stay.”
Things could not have worked out much better for both Siegfried and Oswego. She not only made the team, but went on the past three years to finish her college soccer career this fall in the top 10 in school history in shutouts, wins and goals-against average.
“She was an unknown, and the unknown became a real success for us,” said McGrane.
This past season, the 5-foot-8 senior helped Oswego (7-6-4) reach the State University of New York Athletic Conference quarterfinals for a second straight year. In 17 games, Siegfried posted a 1.12 GAA with four shutouts. She made 61 saves and had a .753 save percentage.
Athletic, with quick reflexes, Siegfried understands the goalkeeper position, even though she didn’t take up soccer until she was 16 years old.
McGrane said Siegfried’s progress since her sophomore season has been like “night and day.” She attributed that to goalkeeper training before practices two or three days a week.
“I know that I’ve gotten a lot better and I wish I could continue,” she said. “Everything does come to an end, unfortunately.”
Siegfried has had to endure some pain along the way. She broke her right thumb her sophomore year. “It also made me try harder and want to come back,” she said. The past two seasons she played with a torn right biceps tendon. She said she will undergo surgery over the winter break.
McGrane said Siegfried is “just tough as nails.”
Siegfried has been getting the job done in the classroom, too. She carries a 3.7 grade-point average. The last two years she made the SUNYAC All-Academic Team and was on the SUNYAC Commissioner’s List last year.
Now that the soccer season is over, Siegfried is shifting her focus to ROTC. She is Oswego’s acting commander for ROTC. Next summer she will be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army, she said. She wants to be a military police officer.
“I have never regretted transferring here,” Siegfried said. “It was probably the best choice I made for a school. The athletic community is great. We support each other.”
And it all began with one email.
Said Siegfried, “Somehow, just like a flip of a coin, it landed like I wanted it to.”
Photo caption: Melissa Siegfried of Mattituck finished her goalkeeping career at Oswego State in the top 10 in school history in shutouts, wins and goals-against average. (Credit: Oswego State courtesy photo)