From the Bench to Breaking Records

Izzy Dalesandro

There’s 35 seconds left in the Ursinus-McDaniel game and the Bears are up 1-0. A McDaniel player hits a long free kick. A McDaniel forward meets the ball and flicks it towards the goal. Bear’s goalie Kaela Frenchman dives to the ground grabbing the ball, securing the 1-0 win over McDaniel on Senior Day.

During the fall 2021 season, Frenchman dove to her right side in practice when a teammate asked to shoot on her in-between drills, and tore her posterior lateral capsule in her knee. She said, “I didn’t find that out for a month and a half until I got my MRI.” Several doctors’ appointments followed the MRI, and the doctors concluded that she did not need surgery because the tear wasn’t bad enough to get an operation. But it was bad enough that she couldn’t play for the remainder of the season. Frenchman did rehab for 6 to 7 months, 5 days a week, and got a cortisone shot, until she was finally able to run again come spring season.

Spring season was all about “getting back into it, and getting my feet wet again,” Frenchman stated. After the conclusion of the spring season Frenchman had to change her mindset from being an injured player on the bench, to wanting to become the starting goalkeeper for the Fall 2022 season. Bears goalie coach Jodi Clugston-Voss described how she asked Frenchman after the conclusion of the spring season, “are you okay with being on the sidelines, or do you want to play?” Frenchman replied, “no, I want to play.” Clugston-Voss then said, “well you have to prove it to me.” Frenchman said, “I had a mindset switch after our spring playday, where I just wanted it…I wanted to win, I wanted to win in every aspect, I didn’t want the coaches to have any reason to not play me.” She proved it. Frenchman described how she took the summer workout pack- et very seriously and worked out 6 days a week with no extra rest days.

Come pre-season, that grind paid off. She excelled in all of her goalkeeper fitness tests, as well as the field player tests. She gave credit to her coaches for pushing her to change her mindset and, “my family, teammate Izzy Allocco, and Liv for keeping me there.” Clugston-Voss stated, “she has really put the team first by coming into pre-season in shape.” Frenchman started 15 out of the 17 games throughout the season, not playing in just two games due to injuries.

Frenchman has been working her whole life to be able to play college soccer, starting at age three when her older brother started kicking a ball around with her. She has been a goalie since she was six years old in rec soccer but said, “I started taking goalkeeping really seriously in about 8th grade.” Frenchman explained how her dad pushed her to become a goalie because she was an outfielder on a softball team and said, “I played 3rd and 1st base, which is a lot of reaction time and just like footwork and agility, so they kind of went hand-in-hand.” One of the factors she described that set her apart from other goalies from a young age was her ability to kick the ball really long, which her dad had taught and worked with her on.

Frenchman said she chose to come to Ursinus because the team was welcoming, and she really liked them but also “that the team would appreciate me as a goalkeeper which was big because I’ve been on teams where they kind of just don’t care about their goalkeeper.” Ursinus ended up being the right fit for her as she broke many records this season. Throughout the Fall 2022 season Frenchman ending up breaking two single-season records for save percentages and goals against, as well as tying the shutout record in a season with seven. Goalkeeper coach Clugston-Voss stated, “I am very proud of her and our team.” From being injured on the bench, to breaking records, Frenchman had quite a comeback story.