By: Sean Cartell
SEC Digital Network
BATON ROUGE, La. – If there’s an opportunity to be had, there’s little doubt that Megan Kinneman will take advantage of it.
The LSU senior has established herself as one of the top goalkeepers in the Southeastern Conference, ranking third in the league with 75 saves on the year. At 5-foot-4, Kinneman is short in stature, but uses her frame to her advantage.
“I think that I’m a very technical goalkeeper,” Kinneman said. “I like to hold on to shots when I can. I’m quick and I like to use that to my advantage. People look at me and see that I’m short, but I like to use my speed to cover that up.”
Growing up in Missouri City, Texas, as the youngest of three children, Kinneman took up soccer at the early age of four, as both her brother DJ and her sister Nicole participated in the sport. For her, it was a natural fit.
Kinneman was a four-star recruit and a top-100-ranked player coming out of Elkins High School and was considered the nation’s No. 9 goalkeeping prospect. She served as captain of her high school team as a junior and senior and was also voted her team’s Most Valuable Player in each of those seasons.
As impressive as Kinneman’s statistics have been, it is her leadership qualities that are her trademark.
“It’s an honor to lead this team,” Kinneman said. “I think that we have a lot of talent on this team. I’ve enjoyed being able to grow throughout my time at LSU and, this year, step into this leadership role both on and off the field.”
Upon her arrival in Baton Rouge, Kinneman quickly assumed a leadership role as she became the squad’s starting goalkeeper as a rookie. She started each of the 14 matches in which she played and was named to both the SEC All-Freshman Team and the SEC All-Tournament Team. She saw more than 1,300 minutes of action and allowed just 10 goals. Her 0.66 goals-against average was tops in the SEC in 2010.
While Kinneman had to adjust to the collegiate game largely on the fly, it was that experience that allowed her to gain the needed confidence to become one of the league’s top players.
“When I first came in, I didn’t think I was going to start my freshman year and I wanted to just learn as much as possible,” Kinneman said. “I was quiet and I didn’t know I was going to have an impact on the team. When I earned that spot and took over the goalkeeper role, I had to have some leadership there. With each year, my confidence has just grown, as well as my knowledge of the game.”
Given her four years of experience in goal at LSU, Kinneman has become something of a coach on the field for the Tigers. That role has her planning for a future career in coaching, once her playing days have come to an end.
“I’ve started to take some coaching courses in the offseason and whenever I’ve been playing,” Kinneman said. “I’d like to continue playing, but I definitely want to go into coaching. I think it’s pretty exciting to be able to have an impact on a person’s life through sports. Just to be involved in soccer as long as possible would be great.”
Kinneman has been influenced by countless coaches in her life, especially former Olympian Tracy Noonan, who was a member of the 1999 U.S. World Cup Championship team.
“I think every coach that I’ve come in contact with has given me a little bit of a push towards coaching,” she said. “Every coach has a different opinion and style and I’ve been able to pull a little bit from all of them. In the summers, I’ve worked with Tracy Noonan. She has allowed me to work camps and mentor me a bit, and she has had a big role in me wanting to become a coach.”
While Kinneman is focused on her future, there is still much she would like to accomplish at LSU, as her team gears up for the Southeastern Conference Tournament November 4-10 in Orange Beach, Ala.
“I think we want to do as much as possible,” Kinneman said. “I like to take it game-by-game and focus each game, but we do have big-time goals that we want to accomplish, like winning the SEC and getting an NCAA bid. We want to win all of those games, but we will do it game-by-game if we want to accomplish our goals.”
There’s no question that Kinneman has made a lasting impact at LSU and she has also taken full advantage of her collegiate experiences and the resources provided her as a student-athlete.
“LSU gives us the opportunity, if we give 100 percent into every aspect – the weight room, the classroom, on the field – that it’s right in front of us to do the best we can. I’ve put everything into everything we’ve been given.”