Sophomore goalie Sammy Jo Prudhomme has been an important presence in OSU’s backline in 2013
Sammy Jo Prudhomme said last Friday was the best birthday of her life.
Why wouldn’t it be?
Oregon State’s sophomore goalie celebrated turning 20 by recording her third consecutive shutout, helping OSU pull off an upset of then-No. 12 Cal at Paul Lorenz Field.
This weekend, Prudhomme is hoping to have the best homecoming of her life when OSU faces No. 2 UCLA and USC in Los Angeles.
Prudhomme, an Aliso Viejo, Calif., native, is the only player on OSU’s roster who hails from Southern California. As a senior at Aliso Niguel High School, she started at keeper for a team that finished the season ranked No. 1 in the nation by ESPNHS.com.
OSU head coach Linus Rhode said Prudhomme was considered one of the best goalkeepers in her class.
“When we saw her play in club soccer, she was definitely one of the top goalkeepers out there,” Rhode said. “What we liked about her was she had the talent, but she also had huge upside.”
Nearby powerhouse UCLA recruited Prudhomme “heavily,” she said.
But the Beavers were in need of a goalkeeper to replace four-year starter Colleen Boyd, the program’s all-time leader in shutouts and goals-against average.
“I felt like I’d rather go to a place that needs me,” Prudhomme said. “UCLA has a lot of really, really good players. I felt like Oregon State was more of a team I could help immediately.”
So she committed to OSU and, as a freshman, entered last season in a competition with junior Audrey Bernier-Larose for the starting keeper gig.
Prudhomme became the Beavers’ full-time starter midway through the season and her performance justified the coaches’ decision. She finished first in the Pac-12 in saves per match (6.46) and second in save percentage (.832) en route to being named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman team.
This season, Prudhomme ranks second in the conference in saves (79) and has recorded five shutouts, despite the Beavers having a much less experienced backline than last year, when Prudhomme recorded four shutouts.
“Sammy has definitely grown quite a bit,” said assistant coach Michelle Voiland, who works with the team’s goalkeepers. “She’s a natural competitor, a natural gamer.
“She has a lot of confidence in herself and her teammates. I don’t think she’s ever been nervous; if she is, you don’t notice. That’s important for the goalkeeper to provide that security for the team.”
One reason for Prudhomme’s growth, she said, was the fact that she played with a semi-pro team in Los Angeles during the summer.
“That was really good for me,” Prudhomme said. “Those are some of the best players in the country. I think that really improved my staying focused for an entire 90 minutes, honing in on my technique and stuff.”
Rhode said Prudhomme has improved her kicking and leadership, the latter of which has been particularly vital considering OSU’s starting backline has recently consisted of two sophomores and two freshmen.
“Her organization of the backline has been great,” Rhode said. “And in big moments in games, she makes big saves.”
Prudhomme collected 15 saves total during her recent three-game shutout streak, which came to an end with OSU’s 4-1 loss to Stanford on Sunday. The Beavers won all three of those games by one goal.
“When it comes to the games, not only does she make the saves she needs to make, she also comes up in the big situations and makes saves to keep us in the game,” Voiland said.
Prudhomme still has two more seasons of eligibility, and already ranks fourth in program history in career shutouts (nine) and sixth in career saves (163).
She’s excited for what the rest of her career has in store.
“I think (this season and last season) is going to help a ton,” Prudhomme said. “Not just me, but (sophomores) Gwen (Bieck) and Laura (Rayfield) and all of our freshmen. It’s going to help us going forward for being leaders on the team.”
Grady Garrett, sports reporter
On Twitter @gradygarrett