LONGMONT — Jenny Hinman could’ve come off the field and no one would’ve said a word.
No one would’ve doubted her toughness.
The Silver Creek senior goalie had been knocked down, run into and pushed all afternoon in an April 16th game against Niwot, but this particular collision took its toll on her. She was aching. As Hinman laid on the turf late in the contest, Raptors coach Sara Friend came running out to check on her.
Friend looked at her and said, “Jenny, we need you. We need you in that goal.”
With that, Hinman shook off the pain and got back in net, where she’d make a crucial save to help preserve a scoreless overtime tie with the Cougars.
“No way I was coming out,” Hinman said. “My team needed me in goal.”
What’s a little pain when your team needs you?
Then again, sacrifices are nothing new to Hinman. The Raptors needed someone to step into the net this spring, and she willingly volunteered. Hinman had never logged a minute in goal — she’s a career striker — but if it was for the good of the team, she’d do her best.
In the process, Hinman uncovered a hidden talent. In 990 minutes in net, she’s allowed 11 goals and made 54 saves, including nine against Niwot.
“We were waiting for a miracle to appear at goalie, and it was right there the whole time,” Friend said. “Jenny’s been great.”
So great in fact it’s caused a change in her plans. Hinman had intentions of playing forward at Bethany College in Kansas. Now she’s thinking of a career in net.
“I’m enjoying this new challenge,” said Hinman, whose team, seeded ninth, will host the No. 24 seed Sand Creek (9-4-1) this week in the opening round Class 4A state soccer tournament.
To help Hinman make the transition, the Raptors brought in a goalie coach. Maggie Cauley has been working with Hinman once a week on her technique.
“You could tell right away she was going to be good,” Cauley said. “She had this confidence about her.”
Even though she’s a rookie at goalie, rarely has she made rookie mistakes. Hinman plays like she’s been in net her entire life.
“I’m still a little hesitant,” Hinman said. “I’m working on it. I’m getting better.”
Hinman thought this would be a part-time gig. She figured she’d move into the field at some point this season.
But she’s proved to be too valuable in goal.
“I didn’t think I’d stick with goalie this long,” Hinman said. “I really enjoy it.
“I’d play anywhere this team needed. If they asked me to play defense, I’d learn it. I just want to help this team win.”
Seed of disappointment: Niwot soccer coach Jeremy Pinard thought his team would be seeded somewhere in the top 10.
However, the seeding committee didn’t agree and the Cougars (9-4-2) head into the state tournament as the 14th seed. Niwot will host 15th seed Centaurus (9-5) in the opening round this week.
“I’m a little upset,” Pinard said. “But we can’t worry about that. We have to go about our business.”
In the Class 3A state tournament, Dawson draws the eighth seed and will play ninth seed Fountain Valley.